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The art of interviewing: tips and techniques for great podcast interviews

The Best Tips and Techniques for Great Podcast Interviews

Do you host an interview podcast? Are you looking to start an interview podcast? Or do you want to level up your interview podcast game? Then today’s post is for you! Because we’re breaking down all our best tips and techniques for great podcast interviews.

A little interview podcast backstory…

We Edit Podcasts: Podcast Interviews

The interview podcast is probably the most common podcast format. I’m guessing if you think about some of the world’s most popular podcasts, it’s the interview-style shows that come out tops. And if you think about it, it’s easy to see why. When done well, great interview podcasts bring thought-leaders and topic authorities together, and deliver amazing content that’s characterized by great chemistry and hilarious banter.

But this doesn’t just happen…

It surprises many when we tell them that those amazing podcast episodes don’t “just happen naturally”. Yes, it sounds like all those insightful questions and interesting answers are just happening on the fly, but usually, it’s simply not the case. It takes preparation and practice. But, honestly, that’s just the tip of the excellent interview podcast iceberg. 

And here at We Edit Podcasts, the topic of what really makes for great podcast interviews is something we discuss often. And we have a running list of the things we see amazing hosts do to really nail their interviews. But because we’re not into gatekeeping, we’re sharing that list with you today. 

In this blog post, we aim to share our best tips and techniques for the interview podcast, honed through years of experience, to help podcasters consistently conduct great interviews. 

Because mastering the art of the interview podcast is a skill that can transform your content and captivate your audience. 

But the reality is that it takes far more than merely finding amazing guests and asking them those burning questions. Great podcast interviews are nuanced, and dynamic, and are the product of a lot of work behind the scenes.

Great Podcast Interviews are More Than Question and Answer

interview podcast

But before we get to those tips and techniques, allow me to get a little nerdy…because I can get really passionate about the “hidden stuff” where I believe all great podcast interviews are really made…

Because great podcast interviews are far more than the mere exchange of questions and answers. They’re an intricate dance that blends the art of storytelling, active listening, and genuine connection. It’s about creating a dynamic conversation that not only informs but also captivates and resonates with the audience. 

The magic lies in carefully prepared, thoughtful questions, but balanced with the interviewer’s ability to ask a unique follow-up, to dig deeper, or pivot the discussion. 

A great interview should be an exploration of the guest’s expertise, experiences, and unique perspectives, turning the interview into a narrative that unfolds organically. The rhythm of the conversation, the authenticity of emotions conveyed, and the skillful interplay of words all contribute to crafting an experience that lingers in the minds of listeners. In essence, a great podcast interview is a symphony of communication, where each participant contributes their notes to create something that is impactful and unforgettable for the audience.

See, I told you…a little nerdy…

So enough about the “why”, let’s dive into the “how” of podcast interviews…

Now, let’s get into the heart of the post, our best tips and techniques for great podcast interviews. In this guide, we’ll explore essential tips and techniques to help podcasters excel in the art of interviewing and create dynamic, engaging, and memorable content.

From thorough research to fostering a comfortable environment, each strategy aims to elevate your interviewing skills and create content that resonates long after the episode ends.

Let’s dive right in!

The Best Tips and Techniques for Great Podcast Interviews

Without any further ado, our quick-fire tips and techniques to help podcast hosts ace their podcast interviews time, and time again!

1. Don’t Neglect the Preparation

I firmly believe that a great interview podcast is made in the planning stage. So, take the time to do the due diligence beforehand.

Before the interview, invest time in researching your guest’s background, expertise, and previous interviews. Knowing your guest well gives you the best starting point. It enables you to ask insightful questions that go beyond the surface, fostering a deeper connection with your guest, and offering your audience highly valuable, unique content.

2. Prepare Open-Ended Questions

Now, in your preparation phase, you want to dig a little deeper. Amazing podcast interviews all have one thing in common, the hosts ask great questions. And the type of questions you want to aim for are open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions require more than a simple “yes” or “no” response. They’re the type of questions that encourage detailed responses. Setting up your interview with open-ended questions will allow for a more fluid and dynamic conversation, providing your listeners with all those unique, valuable insights.

3. Always Allow for Guest Preparation

The next step in the preparation stage of great podcast interviews is allowing your guests to be prepared. Again, I know those stellar interviews sound like everyone is just “going with the flow” but I can all but guarantee that the guests who are giving the most during the interview do so because they were prepared.

So, once you’ve crafted those open-ended questions, send your intended list of questions to your guest in advance. This allows your guest to prepare and bring their best to the conversation, enhancing the overall quality of your podcast.

4. Establish a Connection

In the world of podcasting, connection is everything. (Yes, there is a pun in there. Yes, it was intended.) Podcast hosts want to connect with their audience, of course, but it is also super important for said podcast hosts to form connections with their guests. This helps create the space for that banter and chemistry. 

A simple and effective way to do this is to set up a friendly “pre-interview” conversation with your guests to help set the tone and build rapport. A comfortable and relaxed guest is more likely to open up during the conversation, leading to a more authentic and enjoyable listening experience.

(A side-note: this certainly does not mean you have quote/unquote “like” your guest – you can totally have guests on with whom you disagree on the topic at hand. But even if you’re disagreeing, you should still attempt to establish that initial connection that will then form the channel for your different points of view.)

5. Practice Active Listening

Our next technique for outstanding podcast interviews is to practice active listening. Fun fact: great hosts are the ones with great listening skills! You need to learn to actively pay attention to your guest’s responses. 

When you’re able to pay attention to what they’re really saying, you can then use their answers to guide follow-up questions. 

Active listening also demonstrates genuine interest, which will help you strengthen that connection with your guest.

6. Ask Thoughtful Follow-Up Questions

Use your guest’s responses to guide your follow-up questions. Thoughtful follow-ups show that you’re engaged and can lead to deeper discussions, enriching the content and providing more value to your audience.

BUT REMEMBER! 

Not every question needs a follow-up. You also need to be careful that those follow-up questions don’t derail the topic or focus of the interview. So a bonus tip is to keep a notebook handy during your interview. If you think of a follow-up while your guest is still focusing on the current question or topic, write it down. Then, once they’re finished sharing on that particular point, you can see if your follow-up question is still pertinent and necessary, or if it was merely a side-bar.

(I actually heard this tip on Carli’s podcast, Business Beyond the Mic, catch the episode where this came from here, as well as all the other episodes here.)

7. Keep Adaptability in Mind

Next tip, keep adaptability in mind. I know I’ve categorically been stressing the point that good preparation is key to amazing interviews, but you also don’t want your interviews to be too rigid. You also don’t want to create a situation where you’re completely thrown if and when life happens around your interviews. 

You, as much as you have to be prepared, you also have to be adaptable. And that’s also why active listening is so important because it enables podcast hosts to keep the focus of the interview but also to ask really insightful follow-up questions.

great podcast interviews

8. Embrace the Unpredictable

And while you’re keeping adaptability in mind, this brings us to our next podcast interview tip: learning to embrace the unpredictability of podcast interviews.

Great podcast hosts are able to stay flexible during the interview. If the conversation takes an unexpected turn or your guest introduces an interesting topic, you need to be able to go with the flow. As much as you need to be prepared, you also need to be able to adapt. Rigidity can stifle the natural dynamics of the conversation. So the legendary podcast hosts are the ones who are able to walk the line between sticking the script and following a tangent that’s going somewhere golden.

9. Silence Can Be Powerful

The next tip is one that the truly great podcast hosts understand…the power of silence. Great hosts know how to embrace moments of silence. Silence from the hosts allows guests to fully express their thoughts, without interruption. Even seemingly encouraging “hmm’s” can be distracting (not to mention, time-consuming to edit out!). So the truly great hosts appreciate the power of silence.

They know how to keep silent and let their guests have the floor. And only speaking or adding input when their guests have had the chance to share their thoughts.

And remember, these silent moments can always be edited out in post-production.

Looking for some post-production help? Check out our services here!

10. Tech Check

Our next tip is a technical one…always do a tech check! Before every interview, no matter how many interviews you do, always do a tech check. This is a simple way to help ensure a smooth experience for you and your guests. 

Start by arriving early for all interviews. Even if they’re taking place online, show up before the set time. This gives you the time to sort out any technical issues without compromising interview time.

Start by checking your mic and headphones. Are they delivering the top-notch audio quality you’re after?

You also want to check the quality of your internet connection. This is particularly important if you’re conducting long-distance interviews. Remember, technical glitches can disrupt the flow of the interview, which in turn, can impact the listener’s experience. 

11. Create a Comfortable Environment

Another key tip to those great podcast interviews that is often overlooked is creating a comfortable environment. Why does this matter? Well, because a comfortable environment will go a really long way to make your guest feel at ease. And we’re able to deliver our best insights and thoughts when we don’t feel the intense pressure to do that. 

So, in the build-up to your interview, orientate your guests. Explain the format, assure your guest of the conversational nature, and avoid creating a high-pressure atmosphere. Remember, podcasting is fun, and a relaxed guest is more likely to contribute to an enjoyable conversation.

12. Express Your Gratitude to Your Guests

Send your guest a thank-you message after the interview. (If you don’t have a post-interview email set up, we highly recommend creating one. In fact, we believe in that so strongly, we even created a template for you. You can find it here.) Expressing appreciation fosters a positive relationship and leaves the door open for future collaborations.

Showing appreciation and saying a genuine ‘Thank you’ will never not be a good idea! (I know that’s a double negative, but you get what I’m saying!) And it will always be the right move to foster positive relationships.

13. Request Feedback

And finally, our last tip to help you become the best podcast interviewer you can be is to consistently ask for feedback. As I’m sure you’ve realized through the course of this post, great interview podcasts don’t just happen. They are carefully crafted and created. 

And so it follows that great podcast interviewers are the ones who constantly work to hone their craft and improve their skills. And one of the simplest ways you can do this is to consistently request feedback. 

You can start by asking your guests for some post-interview feedback. A simple way to do this is to include a questionnaire in your thank-you email. 

Seek constructive feedback from your guest. Understanding their perspective provides valuable insights and helps you continuously improve your interviewing skills.

But you can also always reach out to your audience and ask for their input on all aspects of your episodes. You’re creating your show for the listeners after all! Why not keep a finger on the pulse of exactly what it is they’re looking for from your show?

Wrapping It Up On Podcast Interviews

Remember, as with anything of value in life, great podcast interviews do not “just happen.” They are always the result of thorough preparation, diligent input, and practice. Lots of practice! And so while we can’t make you practice, we can equip you with the key tips and techniques that form the foundation of great podcast interviews.

By incorporating these tips into your podcast interview approach, you’ll create dynamic, engaging, and memorable content that resonates with your audience. But more than that, our goal with sharing these tips and techniques is for you, the podcaster, to help you establish yourself as the best interview podcast host you can be.

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