In a sea of podcasts, how can you help yours to stand out when interviewing guests?
Anybody can conduct an interview, but what makes people like Joe Rogan and Oprah so well known for their interviewing skills?
The guest is the expert of the episode, they've given their time to make an appearance and contribute to their podcast. For this reason, you want to make sure they get enough of the spotlight and are not being overshadowed by the host.
That said, you are the show as well. One of the reasons people come to your podcast is for you. Your unique perspective, opinion, and hopefully interviewing skills.
The important thing to remember is to keep your thoughts brief and always consider what information would be relevant to the listener. The guest should be the focus, rather than listening to you speak during their valuable time.
Encourage and give them time to speak, don't interrupt, and help facilitate a natural conversation.
Ahead of time, you can prepare your guest for what's to come.
Let them know about your podcast's audience so they can understand what info would be relevant to them.
You may choose to supply a list of some questions you want to cover, but be sure not to have the guest write out scripted answers. Leave some room for natural discussion and follow-up questions. The main benefit here is that your guest can think ahead of time, and not be caught off guard or unprepared for certain questions.
It's fine to go off topic a little but keep it reasonable. Don't stray too much or take too long. If you've conducted your episode properly, there is a key focus of the conversation, and you've communicated this properly in the episode title and show notes. If a listener tunes in and ends up hearing completely unrelated material, they may not be inclined to stick around.
Help your guest shine as well by getting great-quality audio from them, and prep them ahead of time with a prep sheet.
Some podcast hosts have a tendency to "switch to recording mode" when it's time to start interviewing. This sets a bad precedent and won't yield as good of results as if you had just kept it natural.
What do we mean by this?
Usually when you first connect with a guest on the call you may have a brief chat about what's to come, checking audio, asking how their day was, etc. If you have a very casual personality here but then your demeanor changes once you hit the recording button, it may not sound genuine.
Spend a few minutes up front chatting with the guest and getting comfortable with each other. This will get any awkward greetings out of the way and ensure a smooth flow right into the interview.
Once the interview begins, maintain your normal, casual self just as you did before. Be yourself, don't put on a false personality.
In addition to prepping the guest, you yourself should be prepared. Do some research ahead of time. This may lead you to certain topics you'd like to cover with the guest.
It's also important to consider the interview from your listener's perspective. They likely don't know things that you do.
For example, a question like "I read about that time at your first business, can you tell us how you applied the lesson there to your next company?" leaves the listener in the dark.
What happened at the first business?
This would be better asked as "So with your first business you partnered up with someone who ended up not being a good fit and cost you a lot of money. Can you briefly tell us what happened, and then the lessons you learned and applied with your next company?"
Strike a balance. There's no need to waste time delving into too many details, but be sure to provide the proper context so that listeners understand what you're talking about.
Looking for ways to ask questions differently, or ask questions other than what the guest would typically be asked, will be interesting for them and your audience.
One of the best ways to achieving a good conversation is listen. If while your guest is speaking you're busy thinking about what to say next, you may miss some interesting points than may have led to an interesting conversation. You may even have a notepad nearby to jot a quick note so you don't forget something they mentioned.
You may also make notes on edits that need to be made, such as a loud noise or a part that you want to highlight.