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In this episode of The Podcast Reporter show, we discuss the old tale of how to conduct an interview — since I feel that many today are especially boring and not well informed. I say this, as I have been interviewing in podcasting since 2006. And this is a skill that I learned and developed over the past 17 years.
Here, we review an article in the podosphere on conducting a “good” interview at this link: https://www.morningbrew.com/sidekick/stories/art-of-interviewing-work-life
and we summarize the steps that we have known about for the past 17 years (as if they were new). The subtitle is “Tips and tricks for asking good questions that get good answers.”
The steps are the following from duo interviewers and contributors of this article — namely “Sidekick spoke with legendary journalist, author, and contributor to the New Yorker, Ken Auletta; Spotify podcast host and storyteller, Lea Palmieri; and former CNN executive editor of international features and current editor of Spotify-owned channels, Neil Curry.”
Here are some more tips from these “experts”:
- Listen carefully. You may have scripted questions, but be sure to let the conversation flow. “[When] you’re really listening to that person, at that point, you’re having a dialogue. And you’re taking them into areas maybe they hadn’t been. So you may get some surprising answers,” Auletta said. But also read the room, Palmieri advised. Evaluate whether the person is comfortable with sharing more, and then ask questions accordingly.
- Don’t rush to fill the silence. Wait when there’s a moment of silence during your interview, Auletta advised. Often interviewees will speak more to fill the void themselves. “They’ll sense that you’re not happy with their answer…and they’re going to want to satisfy you with an answer,” he said.
- Know your questions well. Connecting with your subject and maintaining an easygoing back-and-forth is important, but having a clear understanding of what answers you want to elicit helps keep the conversation on track, Palmieri said. If a subject steers off-topic because they connected with you, indulge for a moment and then bring it back.
- Be agreeable. “When people are comfortable with someone in a conversation, they tend to be more open,” Auletta said. Palmieri and Curry agreed: Set the scene and make small talk or ask someone about their interests, but make yourself approachable. Let your body language and your demeanor reflect that you’re open-minded and willing to listen to their story without judgment.
- Interview with confidence. “No matter who you’re interviewing, don’t be overawed,” said Curry. “You have a right to be in that room. They’re sitting down with you and they’re listening to your questions…and don’t be afraid of a cliché question [like] ‘How did you feel?’ That is the essential question of most interviews.”
Now, in the past, I have done literally hundreds (if not thousands) of creative podcast interviews. And I did listen to those who really knew the subject in the podosphere, some of which who had their own podcast shows and who really are “experts.” And here is a partial list, in my opinion:
- Tom Schwab
- Paul Colligan
- Jason Van Orden
- Dave Jackson
- Rob Walch
- Adam Curry
- John C Dvorak
- Daniel J Lewis
- Ray Ortega
- Jim Collison
- Tee Morris
- Bill O’Reilly
- and many others since 2004…
However, the initial list in this article forgets to mention that you must know your subject very well by doing the right research ahead of time and knowing how to pursue the recording to make it sound natural, informative and interesting.
From my perspective, if you really want to be a good interviewer, then check out the value that the real “experts” (whom I have listed, above) can deliver to you, instead of the recent newbies that say they know how to conduct an interview.
And finally, if you wish to see the other side of being in the interview, there is an evergreen episode that describes how to be a great guest by Max Flight (see a prior episode in this podcast show with the title of the episode called “Being interviewed” — it is activated by the following audio player).
As a side note, you yourself may be called upon to be the GUEST and BE INTERVIEWED. And we have a past audio episode from this series that is delivered by Max Flight on the issues and the preparation of being interviewed:
And so we deliver the podcast content from episode #20 of this series, you will notice that Max had a very good ear for quality content, and he brings his suggestions and experiences from being interviewed on the previous show.
Thank you for your attention, and we shall see you next time.
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