Recently we’ve received a handful of questions from podcast hosts (our clients and not) about how to be better interviewers. Since many podcasts out there these days are interview style programs, we thought we’d provide the best 6 Tips for Podcast Interviewing that we could come up with. Hang on, here we go.
1. Breathe. This is (probably) not live.
The three dozen mistakes you make during an interview won’t ever be heard by anyone other than you and the interviewee. Why? Because we’re going to edit them out, that’s why. You’ll get better over time and mistakes will become more rare, but you’ll never be perfect and that’s okay, that’s what post production is for. Don’t let the fear of messing up take you out of the moment and make you anxious or uncomfortable. Relax, it’s going to sound great in the end.
2. Prepare your questions. Make them good.
Never go into an interview with the intention of winging it. While some people are gifted with the ability to just “make it up as they go”, you probably aren’t – most people aren’t. Put thought into these questions, don’t make them simple yes or no questions – and if you do, ensure they have immediate follow up questions. A 30-minute interview needs between five and seven well crafted, engaging questions. And hour requires ten to twelve. In our opinion, 45-minutes is the sweet spot so we always prepare ten and pick the best if we go over.
3. Never interrupt your guest, never interject.
Bring a pad of paper and a pen. While your guest is answering your question, if a question or an interjection pops into your head, stifle yourself. This interview is not about you it’s about them. Write your question or thought down and offer it once they are done speaking. Often you will find that your thought or question is addressed without the need to get involved. The only exception to this rule is laughing, mmhmm-ing (don’t over use this), and/or answering their questions if they engage you with one. Not only is all of this polite behavior, it prevents editing issues later down the line (see microphone bleed or audio spill), especially if you’re sharing a microphone or recording to a single audio file.
4. For goodness sake, embrace the take!
There is absolutely no good reason in a non-live interview that you can’t say “[Guest], can we do that last bit again? I don’t feel like I asked the question properly and I’d like to try it again.” This doesn’t mean the guest has to re-answer the question, but it allows you to say something a second time and have your editor replace the mispoken portion with the correctly spoken portion. The same applies for the guest. If they say, “Actually, can I try that again? I don’t feel like I answered the way I wanted to.” Let them.
5. Buy a “Take Marker”
A take marker is something you use just before you are going to try another take. We use a loud dog clicker, but anything that creates a loud, short sound, is good. Even a clap of the hands or a whistle is good. These kinds of “markers” create a unique appearance in the larger wave form of an audio file and make it easier for your editor to spot takes while editing (this can speed up turn around times significantly). Use a take marker after you screw something up to indicate the point where you tried it again.
6. Individual audio files.
Your editor has a lot to do already, taking your interview from raw to finished. If all voices are recorded to the same single audio file, he or she must first spend time separating those voices to their own tracks. This can take hours depending on the length of the interview and while you might think, “Well that’s what I pay them for”, it’s not. You pay your editor to fix your mistakes and make you sound as professional as possible, this does not mean you have no duty to quality or responsibility to improve yourself. Always ensure that your setup can produce as many separate audio files as there are guests/hosts. For more information on “multi-tracking”, please read this article by The Podcast Host.
Hope this has been helpful! Take care!