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Interviewing a guest on a podcast

How To Set Up for Successful Podcast Interviews

Podcast hosts! Want to make the most of your guest podcast interviews? (Of course you do!)

Or, perhaps you’re just exploring getting into interviews on your show? This post is for you, too!

Adding interviews can be a great way to spice up your podcast. Not only do guest interviews add variety to your show, but they are a great way to build relationships with other podcasters and industry experts.

(Just in case you needed a little extra motivation to take the podcast interview plunge…)

But amazing guest interviews don’t just happen! They are a combination of getting a few core things right. Yes, you need top-notch conversation skills. You need to be able to ask insightful, interesting questions, be able to engage and really connect with your guest, and you also need to be able to think on your feet if answers take a turn you weren’t expecting. These are just some of the hallmarks of a great interview podcast and its host.

But, there are some ‘hidden’ elements that can take podcast interviews from great to out of this world!

Here are some of our top tips for setting up your interview process so that both you and your guests have the best experience!

Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Let’s dive in!

1. Plan Ahead

This one is for you, more than for your guest. (But your guest also wins if you get this one right!)

You want to try and plan out your interview schedule well in advance. Once you’ve zeroed in on the guests you’d like to have on your show, draw up a rough schedule as to when you’d like each interview to happen. Plan this out for the whole season if possible!

This should give you ample time to reach out to each guest and lock down that interview. Or, if there is a schedule issue at the proposed date, you’ll have the luxury of finding the right time for both parties because you gave ample time for planning!

Another reason why this is such a key tip to great interviews is because it will always allow you the time you need to prepare for each interview. Because you know your schedule, you’ll know when you need to start researching each guest, and you’ll then also have the time to craft those unique questions that will set your interview apart from all the rest! And this is podcast gold!

If you consistently deliver unique content listeners can find nowhere else, you and your show will gain authority that cannot be bought!

No two ways about it! Planning ahead is the real secret sauce when it comes to great podcast interviews!

2. Craft a Unique Invitation

Ok, so you have your proposed schedule of dream guests all lined up…now you need to actually secure that interview. So you need our next tip: craft a unique invitation!

A run-of-the-mill, copy-and-paste, generic invite just won’t do! Particularly if you’re going after guests who appear on podcasts frequently. Their inboxes are more than likely flooded with such requests.

So you need to make sure yours stands out! And you can do this by making sure your invites reflect your awesome personality, and that they feel personal for each guest.

And that’s also where ample time to prep can be a game changer! Because you’ll have the time to glean real insight into your guest, and you can leverage this in your invite. Try to include something you admire about the guest that’s unique to them. Show them in your invite that you really are interested in who they are and what they bring to the table.

Also, tell them why you consider them a dream guest for your podcast. What do they offer that you feel would be the perfect fit for your show and your audience? Again, this shows that you’ve really done your homework, and you’re not just sending out random invites, hoping someone will bite! You want them because of who they are and what they have achieved. This personal, meaningful touch can help your show become a contender for their valuable time.

The ending is just the beginning…

Lastly, seal the deal with an incentive. Show your potential guests all that’s in it for them if they choose to be a guest on your show. Because it’s the offer of some sort of ‘give-and-take’ arrangement that can ultimately tip the scale in your favor and land you that great guest!

Think of what your show could offer them. Exposure to a new audience? Great social media coverage? A chance to promote their upcoming book launch? A plug for their latest project in your newsletter, besides the exposure the podcast episode will bring them? Think of all you offer, then find the options that you think will be most attractive to each particular guest, and offer them this in your invitation.

Craft killer invites, and you should find you get way more “yays” than “nays”!

Related read: Everything You Need To Invite and Book Your Next Podcast Guest (Email Templates Included!)

3. Do Your Homework

We’ve briefly mentioned this already, but it’s so crucial to great interviews it gets it’s own feature…you really need to do your homework on your guests. Because this is the only way you’ll be able to uncover those unique talking points to weave into unique questions.

The worst thing you can do is ask each guest the same set of questions! Yes, the basics may be the same, but if you want your podcast to consistently be of value to your guests, and help you rise to the top of your niche, you have to ask original questions to each guest.

Not only that, you also have to ask questions that are different from those found on other podcasts. Remember, if your guest is a popular choice for other shows in your niche, you can’t be asking the same questions as everyone else. You need to find something new!

Besides being great for your podcast, unique, insightful questions are also beneficial to your guest! If they keep getting asked the same questions, they’re just going to disengage with the conversation, because they’re bored! No matter how professional they are, they are bound to become tired of answering the same questions over and over again!

But not on your show!

So be that breath of fresh air and ask new questions! Questions that set your guest up for success as they’re able to showcase more of what they have to offer!

But the only way to do this is to really do your homework on each guest. Read their blogs or books, listen to other episodes they’ve been featured on, or take a look at social media pages to really get a feel for who they are and what they are about. And use this insight to ask those mind-blowingly great questions!

But to do this, you need time! So again, planning ahead helps bucket loads here, too! Because you have the gift of time to really research each guest, and find those unique talking points to ask each guest unique questions.

4. Prep Your Guest

So, you’ve landed your dream guests! And you’ve crafted some amazing questions that are really going to give your audience so much amazing content!

But, now it’s time to make sure they shine during the episode! (Because if you make it possible for your guests to shine, it reflects well on you and your podcast!)

And the best way to let your guests shine is to give them ample time to prepare. You want to avoid at all costs that last-minute scramble just before an interview! This can cause unnecessary stress for everyone involved, and often leads to sub-optimal results. So make sure you prep your questions and send them to your guest with plenty of time to prepare their answers.

Again, planning ahead is the gift that keeps on giving! As you can then determine your timeline and deadlines, and know exactly when you need to get your questions to each guest.

5. Set-Up for Success

The date is set. Your questions are all ready, you’re prepared, your guest is prepared. Now on to the next tip for great podcast interviews…the set-up! You have to set-up for success!

If your interview is taking place in-person at a studio, be sure to get there early so that you have the time to set-up properly. There is nothing worse than a mad rush! You’ll be flustered, your guest might feel awkward and uneasy, and this does not a great interview make!

So give yourself the time to set-up properly, test your equipment, and make sure everything is functioning as it should.

Then, when your guest arrives, you can put your focus on putting them at ease and making them feel comfortable. You’ll be at your best, and you’ll get your guests at their best, too!

6. Practice Your Conversation Skills

Fun fact! Great interviewers are built, not born! Yes, some people have a natural gift of the gab, but the really great news is that stellar interview skills can be developed and honed!

And one of the best tips we can give is to develop and practice your conversational skills. Because at the heart of a great podcast interviewer is a great conversationalist.

But the best thing about this tip is that it sets you up for success far beyond your podcast interviews! If you’re engaging with sponsors, mingling at networking events, or even just chatting with the person behind you in the coffee line, great conversation skills will see you in good stead!

Simple tips like avoiding asking closed questions and practicing active listening will take your conversation skills to the next level, and will also allow you to grow in your interview skills. In this case, small changes really do yield impressive results!

For more tips on becoming a great conversationalist, check out this post 10 Rules of a Great Conversationalist

7. Be Confident

Another tip for great interviews is to be confident. (Yes, I know that’s often easier said than done!)

Because confidence is key to great interviews!

But interviews can intimidate us. Especially if we’re interviewing people we admire! It’s easy to allow self-doubt to creep in, but this can tank your interview! If you’re unsure of yourself, or don’t feel like you’re “qualified” to be doing the interview, you won’t be giving your guest your best.

You’ll find it difficult to think on your feet, should you need to change direction, and you’ll also struggle to ask follow up questions, because you’re so focused on how you’re feeling like you shouldn’t even be there! Don’t do that to yourself, your guest, or your listeners!

Remind yourself of all the work you’ve done to get to where you are. Remind yourself that you have value and you have something of value to offer, both to your audience, and to your guest, no matter who they are! Your authority, unique experiences, even your personality (no matter how quirky!) all work together to make you qualified for this role!

So be confident! And don’t let self-doubt steal any more of your time and focus! You’ve got interviews to prepare for!

8. Always Follow-Up

Our final tip for awesome interviews is to always follow-up post interview. Remember, interviews are not only great because of the value they add to your audience, or even your guest.

They are valuable because they create opportunities for you to build relationships with other podcasters, or other authorities in your niche. But those opportunities turn to dust if you don’t follow-up.

So, after every interview, take the time to send out a “thank you” to each guest. And remember to make these personal! Generic will never do! Make it genuine, heartfelt, and add a personal touch. This will go a long way to keeping these doors open in the future.

And then, remember to reach out again before their episode airs. Send them promotional material for the episodes that they can use on their social media platforms. Send them the link to the episode when it airs, and again, take the time to thank them for their time!

This way, each interview is far more than just an interview. It could be the start of a meaningful, professional relationship! Or the start of a beautiful friendship!

Conclusion

And that’s it, our key tips for taking your podcast interviews from great to absolutely amazing!

Be confident, practice your conversation skills, and do your homework, and you’ll ask the questions that really allow your guest to shine! By doing this, you really give them the opportunity to give your audience their best!

Above all, plan ahead and be prepare! (You saw how many of the tips hinged on Tip 1!) And your interviews will set you up for success! And you’ll enable your podcast to rise above the rest!

Related read: 8 Tips For Saving a Bad Podcast Interview (Because sometimes, even if you’ve done everything right, an interview can still go pear-shaped…and if that ever happens, we’ve got your back!)

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