How to Conduct a Podcast Interview

How to Conduct a Podcast Interview

Picture of Evelyn Lopez Delon - Host of Legacy Building Mamas Podcast

We all enjoy a great podcast interview. It is a real skill. In this digital age podcasts have become a popular go to source for learning and inspiration. If your thinking of starting a podcast read our step-by-step guide that shows you how to conduct engaging podcast interviews- from booking the right person, to preparation, to keeping it authentic and conversational. Don’t go doing your podcast interview without reading our guide first!

Step 1: Choose Engaging Guests to Interview for your podcast

This should be a no brainer but it’s fair to say that in the history of podcast interviews, there have been some non-inspiring guests. These guests are not exactly music to one’s ears. They are boring and dry! The truth of the matter is that you can’t just make a guest interesting through good questions. Your guest must have some charisma to start with or else you’re in for a dry interview. The reality is that just like with compelling content some guests are more compelling than others. 

Check out an example of an engaging podcast interview with Amazon Bestselling author and highly sought Business mentor Mary Philippou interviewed by Evelyn Lopez Delon on her podcast Legacy Building Mamas. The topic is Turning Setbacks into Success which in itself is an important and engaging topic and bought to life by Mary. If you check out Evelyn’s podcast, you’ll see that she carefully selects her guests and has engaging topics that everyone can learn from. Though her podcast is aimed at mothers, you don’t need to be a mother to derive benefit from it.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip – Leverage (database for podcast guests that sounds like a dating website but it’s not!) to find podcast guests.

Step 2: Keep your Podcast Interview Authentic

The number one guiding rule for a great podcast interview is to be authentic and genuinely interested in what your guest has to say. Remember authenticity and genuine interest comes through on audio. People pick it up even on the phone! Don’t just interview someone because they’re famous or have an impressive job title. You must actually care about what they do and have a sincere interest in them. If not, your listeners will pick up on this and you’ll come across as fake and this will hurt your overall reputation and brand.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip – listen to some podcast interviews from different topics and get a feel for the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t be afraid to reach out to guests you’ve enjoyed listening too.

Step 3: Do Background Research on Your Podcast Guest

Research is crucial for so many things in life from going to a job interview, to creating content to grow your business and more. So, preparing properly for your podcast interview is a must. You want to go into the interview knowing a little thing or two about your subject. It’s not sufficient enough to just press play and learn about your subject on the go in the interview. You must do something background research on your guest. Ideally, they will do their research on you too. Google them and learn all you can from their online presence - website, blogs, social media, online articles etc. Even get on the phone or on an online call and have a chat.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip - Take note of your guest’s big achievements, like winning an award, writing a book, experience in business, speaking at events etc. Do a brainstorm and make some notes on what you find.

Step 4: Ask Probing Questions for Your Podcast Interview

Be like a journalist and ask probing questions that allow you to dig deep and uncover golden nuggets of information about your guest. As you do your research, you’ll naturally come up with questions about your podcast guest.  But go beyond the obvious and take a deeper and more creative approach for your questions. Ask interesting and open-ended questions. Keep them clear, concise, and direct.  This will allow you to uncover great information.

Remember if you ask average questions, you’ll get average answers. One person who does this really well, in fact WORD EMPIRE® calls her the podcast queen, is none other than Oprah Winfrey. She is an absolute master at asking probing questions with both her journalism background and tv host background. Her Emmy award winning podcast Super Soul Sunday is testimony to this. Oprah isn’t afraid to ask probing questions.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip - Use the journalist’s formula of the 5 Ws & one H to help you with formulating questions- Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. If you pay close attention, you’ll find all great podcasters do this.

Step 5: Send Your Questions to Your Guest Before The Podcast Interview

Once you’ve created your questions, its best to send them to your guest at least a week before you record your podcast episode.  That way they have plenty of time to prepare their responses and if there are any questions, they don’t want to be asked they can let you know.  Sending your questions ahead of your episode, will allow your guest to feel more comfortable and this results in helping you create much better content which results in a much better podcast. It’s a win-win!

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip- To your list of questions add the question-  “Is there anything else you would like to add that hasn’t been added here?”. It’s both a great closing question but also one that help in further uncovering information. It originates in journalism and all the top journalists use it for their interviews.

Step 6: Keep Your Podcast Interview Conversational

Keeping your podcast interview conservational ensures that the conversation flows nice and easy and there’s room for flexibility. This is what great conversations are all about after all! Even after preparing a list of questions, you still need to retain a degree of flexibility openness during your conversation. We are not suggesting you go off topic rather just allow the conversation to ebb and flow naturally so it can go to a new level of depth. Don’t be so rigid like an army colonel that refuses to allow any flexibility and so everything must work to clockwork.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip - Start your conversation with questions & then allow your guest’s response to direct the direction you should take. If interesting points are raised, follow up, dig deeper, and try to get more information.

Step 7: Don’t Go Off Topic Too Much on Your Podcast

It’s easy at times to go off topic but when it gets too much you need to stop and bring the conversation back to topic. You owe it to your listeners to do so. Reel the conversation back in. As the interviewer, you are the one in charge of steering the direction of the conversation. You don’t need to be rude about it. Just smile, relax, and naturally bring it back on course. A great way of doing this is to throw in liners like “that’s a topic for another episode”, “Lets discuss that in another episode.”

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip – Don’t ramble on and on about your own thoughts and opinions. Something many podcasters are guilty of! Bring it back to topic.

Step 8: Don’t Interrupt Your Guest on your Podcast

Avoid as much as possible interrupting your podcast guest when they are speaking. It comes across as rude and is usually very annoying for listeners. Of course, there are exceptions to this as sometimes it’s necessary to interrupt your guest to get the conversation back on track. But this is an exception and so for the most part should be avoided. When you interrupt someone speaking, you disrupt the flow of the conversation, and the speaker loses their train of thought. You can miss out on a really important point so avoid it as much as possible.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip –  Oprah Winfrey is a master of interviewing guests yet also interrupting them to bring them back on track on her Super Soul Sunday podcast.

Step 9: Minimize All Distractions

When you invite a guest over for your podcast, ensure that you have no distractions happening that will interfere with your podcast. Distractions even the smallest ones can make for a bad podcast interview. Remember things like locking your office door, silencing, or turning off your phone, keeping your pet outside and ensuring any small children are quiet or are being looked after. This applies to teenagers and sometimes even to your significant other!

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip – reduce & eliminate all distractions the day before your podcast and check in again a few hours before your interview goes ahead. Don’t forget to test out your equipment beforehand to ensure its all working correctly!

Step 10:  Practice Active Listening

Please don’t obsess over the next question you’re going to ask as your guest is talking. This is all too common with inexperienced podcasters. Just practice active listening. This is all about being fully present and listening with both ears and allowing your guest to speak uninterrupted. If you don’t do this, you’ll miss their point, and your response will be awkward. Rehearsing your next question in your head can help you feel more prepared but don’t overdo it!

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip – as your guest speaks, pay close attention to every word & don’t be afraid to throw in a question that wasn’t on your list if it helps and aids the interview.

Step 11: Study Great Podcast Interviews

One of the best ways to be a great podcast interviewer is to learn from others – listen to podcasts you like and even ones you don’t like. That way you get contrast and take notes and see what can be done better, and what should be entirely removed. From here put your own unique angle to things. Don’t imitate, rather learn from others but be yourself! Before even starting a podcast ensure that it’s something you actually want to do and are prepared to put in the time and effort.

Check out our blog Why You Should Create a Podcast for Your Brand: 9 Essential Reasons to help you decide if you want to do a podcast. If not, consider being a podcast guest instead or even helping out on a podcast like being a co-host, sitting in on one to see how it all works,etc.

Icon of a lightbulbInsider tip – Monthly listen to 2-3 podcasts of your choice to learn from. Here’s our top 3x Australian business podcasts be hosted by women. This isn’t to be biased rather just showcasing some of WORE EMPIRE’s favourite Australian business podcasts:

  1. Handpicked with Naomi Simson
  2. Legacy Building Mamas
  3. The Buzz with Karyn Harte

For more expert guidance on podcasting and other forms of content for your business, Book a Time With WORD EMPIRE® who build online empires and will help take your brand to the next level.