6 Steps To A Successful Podcast Interview by Melanie Westbrook

6 steps to successful podcast interviews
Image by: Will Francis

So, you want to interview a big name on your podcast? Whether you want to quiz former UN leader Bhan Ki Moon or get deep with actor Orlando Bloom, here are six steps to getting and acing a high-profile podcast interview.

1 It’s all about them

Never forget who your audience is and what they want from you. Most podcasts have a niche audience, so try and visualize your ideal listener as a singular person you will be communicating with. Are they male? Female? Educated? Working class? Aspirational? How old are they? What do they want from your interview podcast – knowledge? Entertainment? If your interview podcast is aimed at, say, educating farmers about sustainable farming through interviews with experts, draw a stick figure of a farmer or cut out a magazine picture that looks like a farmer as your target listener. Put this image near you while researching and recording your podcast. Think about how would he talk, and what would he want to get out of listening to your interview. Knowing who your listener is will be the key to giving your wider audience the podcast guests and content that they love.

2 Google is your friend

Now that you know your listener, it’s time to select the guests that will excite them. Perhaps there are names that already stand out to you as dream guests for your podcast – maybe a Nobel Laureate for an educational podcast on scientific breakthroughs, or a well-known country music star for a podcast on women following their dreams in country music. Ignore the hype of the big names for a minute and put your researcher’s hat on. Start Googling. Look at what your potential guest has written about themselves online – old online resumes, Facebook pages, and blogs. Use Google News to find what reviewers or journalists have written about them in the media. Note down events, dramas, or controversies in their work or life that would be interesting to ask them about in your interview. As you read, think how your questions could tease out a “story” with a beginning, middle, and ending that would engage your target listener throughout the interview.

3 Switch off fear

Now you have thought hard about which high-profile guest you want to interview, it’s time to contact them to ask for a podcast interview.  It’s scary, but the trick is to put nervous anxiety aside. Most people are similar, even prominent public figures: they generally won’t mind reflecting on their experiences and sharing their knowledge. So, casting fear aside, send a short, polite email or social media message to the person you would like on your show. Include a link and brief description of your podcast and how their participation would help the audience. Tell your potential guest it will only take x amount of their time. Include a short dot-point overview of the general interview questions so they know there are no surprises for them. The idea is to make participating in your podcast sound easy, simple, and rewarding for the guest. You will see how this method makes it simple to score the podcast guest of your dreams!

4 Be cool

So now you have Tori Amos on the line. Yikes! The trick is to relax and be cool. Remember, she wants to talk to you, or she wouldn’t be doing it. She’s impressed with your research, questions, and courage, so there’s no need to be intimidated. Don’t start the recording straight away. Make small talk for as long as you can to put them at ease before the interview begins, but don’t let it drag on (this can irritate people with packed daily schedules). Have a series of dot points in front of you. Avoid being overly rigid with sticking to your written questions: Remember a podcast interview needs a certain amount of structure i.e., a beginning, middle, and end, but is essentially still a friendly conversation between two people. Don’t be afraid to go off track if the guest shares insights about their life or career that surprise you or are gold nuggets. Remember you can always edit out any stuff-ups if you are pre-recording!

5. Keep it real

Editing, that is, the process of using a computer program to cut out the parts of your interview that you don’t want can be the difference between a podcast that sings and a podcast that sucks. Some podcasters like to edit heavily, chopping out anything in the interview that they feel is boring, repetitive, or irrelevant to the listener. Some people like a more natural flow and only edit out coughs or parts of the interview where they have stuttered or erred. How much you want to chop out of your interview is up to you. The one thing to remember with high-profile guests is that it is important not to edit in such a way as to change the meaning or context of what a guest says. Your local member of parliament saying, for example, his wife is a “terrible housekeeper, who only cleans the house six times a day”, who has been edited to just say “is a terrible housekeeper” with the rest of the joking sentence edited out, is likely to ruffle feathers when other journalists hearing your podcast misquote him, not to mention creating an angry wife. If in doubt about editing, consult an experienced audio editor who may edit your interviews for a fee.

6. Spread the word

Congratulate yourself! You’ve just achieved a massive feat: a brilliantly insightful podcast interview with a star guest. The worst thing that could happen now is that those people out there who would love to hear it, never find out about it. This is where you need to either become a marketing guru or hire one. Add the podcast to as many hosting platforms as you can, including Spotify, Apple, and others. Create a group page for the podcast’s followers and keep adding people. Post the episode links in Facebook groups and Twitter pages where you think your target audience would be. Ask your prominent guests to join the podcast page and share the episode link so you can attract followers. They may even sing the praises of your wonderful interview when they share the link! The aim of the game is to get yourself heard, so all your hard work doing the interview was not in vain.

Following these six steps will ensure a great interview! They are also the gift that keeps on giving; once you have one high-profile guest, you will attract others as they jump on the interview bandwagon. Happy high-profile podcasting!

Writer bio:

Melanie Westbrook, Image by: Melanie Westbrook

Melanie Westbrook is a media graduate, freelance writer, and the producer of multiple podcasts including Dream Chasers with Melanie Westbrook, a podcast where she interviews successful Australians about their struggles and eventual success. Dream Chasers with Melanie Westbrook is available on all major podcasting platforms.

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