It was more than 2 years ago.
I felt thrilled.
I had finally decided to launch my podcast.
And I was pretty proud.
There was a lot to do, though.
Learning the platforms.
Getting familiar with the tech side of things.
Learning how to interview people.
Crafting my interview flow.
Conducting the interviews.
I thought I was ok.
Because I had taken a great deal of time to craft my interview flow from what I thought my audience wanted to know.
From what I personally wanted to know myself.
Among all my guests.
But at that time, I didn’t know that I had made a huge mistake.
Enter my home studio.
Scarlett 18i20 plugged to an AT2020 mic plugged to my iMac.
Ready to go.
For that next one.
A lady who is well known through several social media platforms.
And I was looking forward to chatting with her.
When I called and she answered, we were both in a great mood!
And then, it started.
What I did not know then
I started my interview the usual way, by introducing my guest.
That was great.
Then, things changed.
See, I had always thought (up to that exact day) that having an interview flow and asking my guests the same questions all the time was the way to go.
I had conducted interviews like this before, and it seemed to work well…
So I remember that prior to starting to interview someone, I always took great care to find questions that intrigued me or questions that my audience would want to ask.
And I foolishly thought that my questions were a “one size fits all”.
I was dead wrong.
It seems that not all questions fit everybody. And I didn’t know about that yet.
Back to my interview with that lady.
Right from the first question, I knew something was wrong.
Her tone changed and she sounded a bit annoyed.
Then, throughout the interview, it got worse and worse.
Her answers were limited to “yes” and “no”.
Her tone was more and more impatient.
And at the end, here is what she told me:
“I have done tons of interviews before. And I can recognize the best interviewers from the ones that still lack experience. The best ones have done tons of research on me.”
That interview was never published.
Research Research Research
There you have it.
The key word: research.
The biggest mistake to avoid when conducting an interview is to be sloppy on your research.
But is there a right way to prepare for each interview and do that research effectively?
You should get all the info you can find on your guest.
Go over their website. This is the first place to start. So many things can be found there, especially some tantalizing aspects of their personal story.
Then, find out if they wrote one or many books and read them, but also read the reviews.
This could definitely be a great subject for your conversation.
You also might want to see if they have had some speaking engagements (either live or virtually) and then watch videos of these performances.
Read their blog, especially any article that might suit your audience. Take good notes and write down any question that comes to mind out of these readings.
Finally, look at any media coverage or other interviews they might have had to see the questions they were asked. This will help you compose fresh and unique ones.
Out of your research results, try to craft original questions.
What’s important about these questions is that they are open. They aren’t the type that invites a simple yes or no answer.
Also, when you are writing your questions, always have your audience in mind.
- What do they struggle with the most?
- What are their secret pains and desires?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
One last thing about this step is to invite the guest to tell stories.
Because stories are powerful. They allow a deepening of the bond with your audience.
What you want is an interview that touches people and creates emotions.
Bottom line, you want your interview to be memorable.
Be comfortable with your questions.
Know your guest well.
And this comes only with one thing: PRACTICE!
Even when you carry out perfect research, something might make this just fly away.
You want to know how?
How to Make your Interview a Complete Flop
Of course, you definitely don’t want to make your interview a complete flop.
But unfortunately, it happens sometimes.
Not that you do it on purpose.
And it’s all about a simple and easy thing.
You don’t listen.
The best quality an interviewer can have is to listen.
The ears must be twice as important as the mouth, no?
See, when you know how to listen, you get the info that your guest is telling you.
You are able to stay present and comment on what your guest says without being “off” or out of context.
You master the transitions between the questions.
You bond more deeply with your guest and audience by saying in your own words what the guest just shared with you.
You react in an awed way to each interesting comment by diving in deeper for more details or clarification to offer your audience.
So if we go back to the interview with that lady I gave you as an example: at that time, I was not a good listener.
I was not making links between questions, I was not asking for details after an answer.
I was too preoccupied by the next question.
The Best Way to Listen
Yes, there IS a way to be a better listener.
It starts by being present.
Getting rid of all distractions.
Putting yourself in a calm environment, where you won’t be bothered by anything or anyone.
If you can see the person you are interviewing, mimicking their gestures is also a great way to show that you are paying attention.
Once in a while, repeat what they just said with your own words.
It will allow you to absorb the info and it will show the guest that you were listening.
As I mentioned earlier, research is key. Crafting the right questions is a great way to stand out.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to become a prisoner of your list of questions…
Too many people put so much pressure on their shoulders, wanting to punch the next question in…
But when you do that, you might let a great story or lesson slip away from your interview.
Yes, it’s better to have more questions prepared than not enough.
But it is not a necessity to squeeze them all into your interview.
It’s not about the number of questions.
It’s about the quality of the interview.
Now you know about research.
Now you know about listening.
And seriously, as soon as you get that, you’re in business.
You are already standing out above so many people who are trying to do interviews.
People who don’t care.
It’s your turn to make each of your interviews unique and memorable.
Now, tell me: who is your next guest or who would you wish to interview and why? Write down your comments below.