One of the surprisingly difficult aspects of hosting a podcast is the interview itself. We talk all the time – how can this be so hard? The reality is, there is an art to conversation, and mastering this art is a critical part of having success as an interviewer.
In this article, we are going to give you three simple ways to up your game as a host.
This advice comes from someone who is no stranger to the craft.
Riaz Meghji is a human connection expert and author of the book, Every Connection Counts.
He is also an accomplished broadcaster with 17 years of television hosting experience – including Citytv’s Breakfast Television, MTV Canada, TEDxVancouver, CTV News, and the Toronto International Film Festival.
He shared this advice with us on an episode of the Build Your Network Podcast.
1. Over-prepare to improvise
Do your research. That preparation will give you the confidence to ask great questions. This doesn’t mean you have to be extremely rigid and glued to an outline.
On the contrary, Riaz advises you to ask your guest one simple question and get out of the way, “What’s on your mind.”
Their response will enable you to prioritize the same things that they are prioritizing – and the research you’ve done will give you the freedom to go down that path of conversation without feeling lost.
Jordan Harbinger gives similar advice, “You need to out prepare everyone else.”
If you want some tips on how you can best prepare, check out this article.
2. Ask for stories, not just answers
20 Questions might be a fun game, but it’s a crappy way to interview. Asking yes or no questions is a surefire way to dampen the energy of your conversation.
Rather than asking someone for an answer, ask for a story.
“How did you feel when…”
“Take me into that moment when you…”
“How did it make you feel when you…”
These questions are more about emotion than information – which will help you ignite a far more powerful conversation and deepen your connection with both your guest.
In turn, this will also deepen your audience’s engagement in the episode, because the stories that your guest will tell will make the listener feel as if they’re living through them.
3. Keep your questions simple
One of the most important skills to develop as an interviewer is to learn how to talk less. Trust me, I’m preaching to myself on this one.
Get. To. The. Point.
I feel bad for those who listened to the first few months of my podcast because I struggled heavily with this.
We get the urge to add layers and layers of context and personal stories to frame our question – but it’s most times, just not necessary. Ask a simple, poignant question and step back.
Don’t trust me? One of the best interviewers – Larry King – prided himself on never asking a question over two sentences.
Be a brutal editor with yourself. Even in post-prooduction, feel free to cut that fluff you find yourself adding. If your question is strong, be confident in it enough to let it stand on its own.
Which of these three tips did you find most helpful? Let us know in the comments below.