Know the story.
As an avid podcast listeners, I have no hesitation pressing stop when the interview is one where the interviewer has no idea about the story they are trying to extract.
Great storytelling captures your attention, creates intrigue and shares a plot that is relatively easy to follow. There is good humour in the conversation about the experience, a lesson along with valuable information as part of their journey. These elements keep the listener listening.
An interview follows a natural time line, with tension building and subsiding relief.
But do the basic rules of Who, Why, What still apply?
The story narrative needs to build and the core content of your episode helps the listener engage their own imagination to re-create the scenes of the story in their mind.
Research and preparing a range of questions and topics to cover are the basic ingredients that give your listeners the opportunity to bring to life the characters, as well as shining a spotlight on the guest. It helps if you confirm the story line with them, and wait for the interview to extract the details.
A skilled interviewer asks questions that are focused and compelling and allow the interviewee to respond. They become the journalist sharing the facts and unpacking feelings that tell more than just the story. The most interesting angles and perspective for the audience is often the story behind the story. For this there are two very specific questions you can ask that you can find at the end of this blog.
Now when, not if, the guest wanders off on tangent or starts deflecting to irrelevant topics you can let this go on and later listen to see if it’s relatable or relevant. By interrupting them in that moment it might dismiss an element of the conversation that has never been shared.
Active listening during the interview is an important skill. It’s the ability to hear what is being said, responding with curiosity with a goal of peeling back the layers to the different levels of awareness in that situation. It’s meeting them where they are at, acknowledging what they say, recognising the emotion and accepting their version and the truth. Appropriate responses validate concerns and I have experienced the healing in those conversations when someone feels heard.
Quite often I find a pod of content that will draw me in to ask for more information. I ask a question and without hesitation they feel compelled to answer. That’s connection. Having spent time build report I am able to ask difficult and confronting questions that my guest has always wanted to answer honestly.
When framing the question ‘Did you think this is where it would end up?’ or ‘What would have been an alternative outcome?’ Within seconds they have accessed their imagination on the hundreds of possibilities.
My favourite part of an interview, by far, is when the level of awareness heightens and they respond with ‘I’ve never looked at it that way’. Sometimes I see the lightbulb go on and their eyes widen, and there is an unscripted dramatic pause or a reflective OMG.
Now going back to going off on a tangent, I do just want I did then. Circling back with a statement to a particular thing that they said before, will guide them back to the interesting facts that you know your listeners subscribe to your podcast for.
Framing the questions with the reference like ‘You said that you hadn’t had a drink in 10 years, what does that mean for you now? Are the answers that create space for story telling.
For more conversational tricks and tactics that you may find useful, check out ‘what questions should I ask my guest?’ Below .
Who is your guest
Introducing your guest is so very important and the prep should be done in consultation with them. Ask them to supply you with a relevant Bio along with an elevator pitch and then do your own research, this also helps in forming questions.
I usually get them to introduce themselves and a one sentence tag line. “Hi I’m Pip and I help people create their personal brand using the power of podcasting.” You can use this for audio bit promo’s.
Otherwise you can ask them to pronounce their name, where they are from and to share their experience, expertise and education. It’s all about what qualifies your guest to be in that position? Which leads us on to……..
Why Are We Listening?
Whilst your catchy episode title has grabbed their attention and your show notes have piqued their interest, explaining to listeners who they will be hearing from and what they can expect in the interview is essential in helping the listener understand the context and drive engagement.
For example: ‘Now Sarah is a cop, she has a degree in education and has been creating amazing programs for young people to keep them safe, engaged in the community and feel important. She’s going to tell us about the complexity of being homeless and some great good news stories about the people she has helped.’
Just because it’s obvious to you, as you’ve already heard the story and now want to share it with the world, carefully curating points of interest, areas of focus, insights and hacks that inspire listeners to take action or stories that will make them laugh is a crucial ingredient in podcast interviews. Interviews are a popular format, easy to listen to and less onerous than monologging or panels.
What will we hear ?
Humour? Inspiring quotes? The Expert? New thought and leadership theories? You’ll need to make them curious. The pursuit of art is an inquiry into the underlying nature of things by using different tools and strategies to explore what is it ? and share that in a way that goes beyond the surface.
A Podcast interview is an investigation.
I found this great explanations from the teachersmagazine.com.au https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/arts-based-inquiry-the-natural-partner-for-social-justice
Using arts-based pedagogies or arts-inquires is about framing learning experiences to connect the cognitive with the emotive.
To critically examine assumptions, understandings and beliefs and view things from different perspectives.
To create a space for experimentation and examination where alternative views can be explored. It is about creating a space where self-esteem, identity, voice, compassion and empathy can be developed and expressed.
It is student centred, participatory and socially constructed.
It can be used within single subjects but is a natural way to integrate and has the greatest pedagogical impact in developing an understanding and potential engagement in social justice as well as underlying principles to their own lives, to determine how they think and feel. It’s the self-work.
The magic happens when the arts and aesthetic approach is fused with ethics and a typical inquiry-based approach is transformed to arts-based pedagogy with a social justice focus.
The Art of Podcasting is about taking time to think about what you are actually creating. It’s about intention, the purpose, the takeaway, the outcome for your listener.
If you can identify what this is, then let your listeners know and they’ll be able to jump right in and gain the most benefits from your podcast.
Your job as the interviewer is to guide your interviewees tell the story in their own words. So there are a few key things to establish before you hit record.
Explain how audio is a powerful source of connection, using your voice only requires descriptions and thoughtfully constructed answers that sound natural.
Explain the power of the poignant pause. It’s a little drama that also allows the listener to consider what they are saying.
Speed of speech, talking over each other or interrupting mid sentence are other elements of the performance that can distract your listener. Allow your guest to finish the story into a Segway.
Explain how to use hand signals and facial expressions to provide feedback during the interview as well how to shut down the question, wind up the answer or clarify the question.
There is nothing worse than listening to an interview where the host is constantly giving verbal feedback during the response.
As the listener can’t see you, you can actually have a whole other conversation going on during the interview.
There are several core ingredients to a great interview which you would discuss in the green room interview. I’ve found just discussing the the main points like ‘that moment in time’, the realisation, the epiphany, the significant event, the impact, the consequences, the changes, the solution, feelings and strategies to deal with whatever their experience gave them, jogs their memory and triggers the mind to recall on those details more quickly.
Formulating questions that share some insight into the bigger concept of fears, values or life events, enables them to reflect and share that deeper emotive response.
What did that look like? What did that feel like? What was it that was holding you back? Why didn’t you share what was going on for you?
Ask direct questions that are open and require consideration. Give them the time to answer, you can also splice and cut.
Be an active listener and if you what to explore something they mention a little more use the phrase.
‘You mentioned before ……… can you tell me more about that? Can you explain what you meant? And what happened next?
These are all really good questions that create depth in an interview and reach the core beliefs, attitudes and influencing factors that helped them decide on that next course of action.
Finally, ask reflective questions like ‘if you had to go through that again…if you had to choose between…….if there was something you would trade……has this changed you as a person?
Check out our question formats in the next article.Read full story