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6 Strategies for Improving Your Podcast Interview Questions

A great interview consists of more than just asking the right questions or having a high-profile expert guest. Even though these are two important components, when it comes to a successful episode, just remember that there are other facets to consider in pulling off an intriguing and attention-grabbing podcast episode.

As many podcasters know, telling a compelling story is really at the heart of what makes a great podcast. Listeners tune in to hear how it all turns out, or find out what will happen next. Whether that’s a fictional story, or a real-life example of someone’s personal story, there is always something drawing them in to find out more.

So, how do you truly uncover these great stories? Well, that’s where expert questions and a journalistic nature comes into play! If are you planning to have a guest on one of your next episodes, then take the time to test out these six strategies to help you improve the way you conduct your interviews as well as giving the listeners a great experience.

1. Do Your Research

Before you can do the interview or even invite on a guest, you should consider what topic your listeners want to hear. Then it’s time for research! Luckily it won’t be hard to find information on your topic and a great place to start is with your audience. Your listeners are the key to finding out which topics will do well on your podcast, and which topics are best left to others. Tapping into their feedback is the best way to guide your podcast episodes and give the listeners the answers to their most asked questions.

Doing research can provide insight into your topic as well as your guest and help you figure out which questions you’d like to ask. So, after you’ve narrowed down a list of topics, you can start to tailor the questions to get the best out of the expert guest you invite on the show. Also, be sure to dig into your guest’s background too by reading their books or articles, listening to previous podcast episodes they’ve been featured on, and finding ways to uncover the unique aspects of their stories.

2. Structure Your Interview

Although a natural conversation is always preferred, adding a bit of structure can make the content just that much more digestible. When outlining your interview there are several types of questions to consider. First, find those no-brainer introductory questions to set your guest’s mind at ease. Next, dive into the more defining questions that help to lay the groundwork on your guest’s background, and give your audience a broader understanding of both the guest and the topic.

As the conversation starts to take off, take a stab at asking some framing questions. These types of questions will help put the topic into context for your audience and show them why it is something of interest to them. After that, start introducing a few challenging questions that allow your guest to dig deeper. Remember to keep your creativity going even throughout the interview, and design a few follow-up questions that you might only have thought of on the fly. Finally, find those really rare personal (yet respectable) questions that intrigue the listeners and keep them coming back for more episodes in anticipation of hearing those answers from other guests.

3. Have A Passion For The Topic

Setting up an interview on your podcast is an easy process that can be done with little to no effort. However, there is one key ingredient required, and that is a passion for the topic at hand. Listeners truly pick up on how excited you are, which often gauges their level of interested. When listeners start to notice a lack of excitement you have in your voice, they will start to lose interest in the episode as well.

When you decide on a topic, keep in mind that your guest should also be passionate about the discussion! The role of your guest is to help bring the topic to life for your listeners and get them fired up about applying it to their own lives. When you find something that you love to talk about, it’s easy to give your listeners an incredible show, filled with a ton of valuable content. Remember that passion can be something you love or something you hate; it all depends on your perspective and giving your listeners the riveting discussion they’ve tuned in for.

4. Create Unique Questions

There’s nothing worse than listening to an interview with a specific guest and hearing the exact same questions they asked on a previous podcast. Listening to previous interviews of your guest will help you determine what questions everyone asks on repeat and give you a chance to put a unique spin on your own discussion. Of course, asking some of these questions might help spark the discussion after which you can take the reigns and switch it up to pull out a whole new story.

Create unique questions that will allow your podcast to stand out from the rest. A great way to uncover those uncommon questions is by sending your guests a little questionnaire ahead of time to find or more about them, especially about the things they’d love to share but never get a chance to discuss. Then, structure your questions so that they will go a bit deeper and unearth answers no one even thought they needed to know. A simple trick to remember is to rather ask open-ended questions instead of asking question that will have short, yes or no answers.

5. Prepare Your Guest

Before you just hit the record button and start bombarding your guest with hard, uncomfortable questions, think about the time and preparation it took you to get ready for this interview. So give your guest that same courtesy to prepare ahead of time. Whether that is by sending them some probing questions a week or two before the interview or even scheduling a quick “get to know you” call, these are great strategies to help break the ice and allow your guest to get a lot more comfortable once the interview actually starts.

This time of preparation can truly give your podcast interview the leg up it needs to differentiate the episode and pull out those golden nuggets of wisdom that your listeners appreciate. Bear in mind that your audience prefers something that feels original, not rehearsed. So keep the flow of the interview conversational and make it easy for someone to tune in to the discussion.

6. Be Comfortable and Confident

Often times podcast hosts find it hard to share the spotlight, especially when they have become so used to running a one-person show. So being comfortable and confident simply means having enough confidence to pass the mic over to your guest for the duration of the episode. The ugly truth is that you might have quite a few new listeners only listening in because of your guest. Luckily this can be used to your advantage!

In these episodes, you should see yourself more as a conversation guide rather than the leader of the show. Ask your questions and allow the guest to do most of the talking, simply guiding them to a new question or spurring on further explanation. A nervous guest might be a bit shy and reserved. Well, this is where you need to be able to make them feel right at home and comfortable enough to discuss the harder, more uncomfortable questions. So settle in, get comfortable, and jump into your interview, confidently guiding your guest to the finish line.

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