Over the past (almost) 3 years, I have gotten to interview upwards of 30 people, quite literally young and old. I admire the power that accompanies recall and storytelling and being able to be on the receiving end of shared memories and wisdom is incredibly rewarding.
In doing so, along with listening to other interview formatted shows, I have become
picky intentional with how I present myself and my show to guests whilst interviewing them. I believe there are certain practices I carefully placed to ultimately ameliorate the experience for everyone.
From being informational to being punctual, these practices construct values and understandings for yourself and between you and your guests as you grow numerically and creatively.
The preparations that precede a recording session are arguable the most value of these practices. For many of my guests, this is their first podcast, first interview, and it is important to set up the stage in a manner that ensures comfortability. Sharing your story is difficult enough, and the last thing you want is for your guests to be uncomfortably surprised during the show.
So the first practice I implemented, which seems like a no brainer now saying it aloud, is to:
Understand my guests and discern whether they are a good fit for the content of my show.
In my old podcast In Pursuit/ Kanini Kega, I had guests all across the board. In the midst of being so eager to learn the stories of those around me, I didn’t stop to think
“wait, does this persons journey align with the messaging I value within my podcast?”
Your podcast is your own, and there is a reason you wanted to create one in the first place. If you haven’t thought about your niche (I know, it’s hard. But trust me, it will be a compass in everything you do moving forward) now is the time to do so. And when pondering on a potential set of guests, really get to know them, their story, and discern whether you can create a blended interview together.
And this goes two ways, right? When contacting your guests make sure to include an introduction to who you are, and what it is that you do. Give them room to listen to a few episodes of your show and decide whether they believe this is something they would want to invest their time in as well.
Next in the chronological order of best practices, I have started doing this thing where I, wait for it,
SET UP A PRE-CALL
And wow, has this led to a substantial improvement in my interviewing skills. Let me illustrate why.
Jump right in to an interview and be learning about the persons journey for the first time
Ease in to an interview having pre-understood their journey and direction, and format your questions in a progressive way that best utilizes the short time you have.
Yes listeners need an introduction to this guest, but it should not be concurrent with your understanding. Setting up a call prior to interviews has allowed me to understand a guests story and also gauge the capacity to which they are willing to share that story.
Which leads me to my next point
Fully express that they do not have to answer every question!
During the pre-call I try to understand what they would like to share, but sometimes a well intentioned yet unanswerable question arises. So laying down the mutual understanding that they can skip a question, it important for both parties. Besides, the abilities of editing software is amazing these days.
If you notice, I said I try to understand what they would like to share. Rather than approaching guests with a particular topic, I have shifted my practice to reciprocating that question to say
“What is it that you would like to highlight as a thread of passion throughout your journey”
This has been monumental in the process, for the better.
Lastly, be entirely professional.
It is hard perceiving your podcast as something serious when numbers are low, but I realized i have to start treating it as such now for that understanding to maintain between my guests and I even in the future.
- Be on time
- Share a disclosure statement
- Communicate through email
- Following up and thank them for their time investment on your passion.
Podcasting has been one of the largest learning curves. As I understand myself and what I want to create I have come to understand that journey includes others. I’m sure there are more lessons to come, but as for now I hope to offered a bit of guidance in facilitating your own podcast interviews.