I remember it as if it was yesterday.
February 10th, 1993.
I even still have the videotape of that one.
Oprah’s interview with Michael Jackson.
For me, that interview was, is and always will be memorable.
Oprah was excellent at putting Michael at ease and making him comfortable enough to share the darker parts of his childhood, explain stuff on rumors made about him, talk about his kids and clarify his love for children.
Oprah was the first one to have access to the King of Pop like that, but also to have the right to ask him any questions, about any aspect of his life.
It ended up being a unique interview.
Filled with emotions, authenticity, stories and truth.
Easy, wouldn’t you say?
Did you say: “easy”???
NOT AT ALL.
Conducting a memorable interview first happens with knowledge.
And a few good qualities.
May I add: human qualities.
It all starts with a great interviewer, who knows how to lead the interview.
And Oprah excels at it.
I truly believe that if the individual does not fascinate an interviewer, that interviewer will never get to conduct a memorable interview.
Let me explain what I mean.
Empathy is about being able to put yourself in the place of the person you are interacting with.
It’s not about taking his/her problems onto your own shoulders!
It’s about understanding their views and their feelings.
As soon as you get that, you will already be above the majority of other interviewers out there.
So many of them just don’t care.
And only ask questions for the sake of asking questions.
They are not genuinely interested in their guest or willing to deepen their connection with them.
They are cold.
Be like that, and you won’t shine.
When you are filled with empathy, you are actively listening.
Commenting on things and getting involved in the conversation.
So invite your guest to share personal stories.
Make your guest and listeners feel like they are experimenting something really special.
If you feel that this might be something you will struggle with, ask a friend to have a conversation with you.
One of the best ways to show your empathy is to repeat what your friend just shared with you in your own words.
Most of the time, it strengthens your bond with your friend, because he/she sincerely feels that you listened and that you get what she/he is going through.
About the questions and the interview flow
It’s funny how lots of pressure can be put on the interviewer (by himself/herself!) about the interview flow or the questions to ask.
Let me say this now.
No matter how many questions you have prepared in advance, on the day of the interview you might be able to ask only a few of them…
Because empathy and listening should be your priority!
So often a story being shared by your guest might give you ideas for your next question.
Remember, you are having a conversation.
Don’t make it sound awkward by just blocking your guest’s inspiration and rushing into the next question instead of showing real interest in the story.
You understand what I mean?
I know. You might feel that you wasted time crafting all those questions, but again, are you looking for an ordinary interview or a memorable one?
That’s what I thought.
The other thing I wanted to mention about the questions, though, is that they should be composed with consideration to your audience.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before even thinking about the questions to ask your guest:
- What’s your audience’s biggest struggle?
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
These 3 questions will definitely guide you into not only finding the right guests, but also making sure that what they share is of high interest to your audience.
So, Finally, What Makes an Interview Memorable?
For the final round of this post, I teamed up with other online business owners who have interviewed people, have been interviewed themselves, and of course have listened to interviews.
They were kind enough to share their insights about what makes an interview memorable for them.
So here goes:
“For me, it’s when the guest can illustrate their points and experiences with stories. That way, we know they are real experiences and lessons, and it’s easier for the listener to remember.”
Jordan Harbinger, The Art of Charm Podcast
“I love it when a guest is open about the real challenges they’ve faced in their business or life. It makes them more relatable, and can provide valuable insights in helping us get through our own challenges.
People don’t remember what other people say. They remember how they made them feel. The best interview guests move and inspire people through powerful, emotional storytelling.”
Selena Soo, Business & Publicity Strategist
“After interviewing seven hundred plus people now on Join Up Dots, I can say without a doubt that an interview becomes memorable when the two people are willing to step into the “Raw” zone.
When they forget that they are being interviewed, and allow a conversation to develop, that is when it goes to the next level.”
David Ralph, Join Up Dots Podcast
“As an interviewer on the Agents of Change podcast, which looks at digital marketing, I like a narrow focus on a topic…the nich-ier the better. I like to uncover one or two really actionable items that my audience can benefit from so they have a reason to check in next week.
As a guest, I like an interviewer who guides me through the conversation. A good interviewer makes it look effortless, because she has already done a bit of homework, and allows me to answer the questions as briefly or expansively as makes sense.
And finally, as a listener, I prefer a back and forth conversation that has a purpose, but also allows for some meandering so it doesn’t feel like I’m listening to an over-rehearsed webinar.”
Rich Brooks, Agents of Change Podcast
“When the interviewer is completely prepared and knows who I am, not only as a business owner, but also knows my interest & passions. That interviewer has listened to other interviews that I’ve conducted and asks very thought-provoking questions. And of course, that interviewer has good energy on call. That’s what makes an interview memorable for me!”
Sue B. Zimmerman, the Instagram Expert
“A great interview is one where the interviewer follows their curiosity. Chances are their audience is curious about the same things. Find an interesting thread, and then follow it. Listen intently. Be willing to go beyond your pre-written questions.”
Jason Van Orden, Internet Business Mastery Podcast
“I abhor cliches and jargon. I always appreciate when someone can explain something in common language, but do so in a way that avoids either cliche or jargon.
I would find this passage – “connect with your readers in a way that touches their heart and draws on their daily struggles” – more compelling than this passage – “connect authentically with your readers.”
Lazy language leads to lazy listeners and readers. I love seeing experts find new ways of creating these meaningful interactions.”
Daniel Lemin, Author of the book “Manipurated”
“As an interviewer, my goal always is to take my guest to a place he/she did not expect to go. I want my guest to feel safe and supported, so that he/she cannot feel defensive.
My second goal is to surprise my guest with what I am asking and that’s a delicate balance I think.
When it comes to the first question: this is the exciting moment of the interview because it’s like walking on stage for stand up comedy. You are entering into a relationship, a conversation with a stranger. If you don’t know them well, it could go either way. They may be open and giving… or tight and distracted.
But the thing that matters the most for me is to create moments that only exist between 2 people in a given conversation because of who they are uniquely.”
Kevin Rogers, Copychief Podcast
Have you seen that the most important things are not about the content?
I don’t want to point out that content is NOT important.
But everybody agrees: people are driven by emotions, authenticity, stories and conversations.
Care about them.
And they’ll stick with you.
For a long time.
What are, for you, the most important aspects to respect to conduct a unique & memorable interview?