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How To Host Captivating Podcast Interviews That “Wow” Listeners

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How are you doing in podcasting as a guest, host, or both?

Yuval Selik, the host of The 7 Hats Podcast, shares his methods for finding interesting and relevant guests. Additionally, he talks about researching those guests to produce engaging questions and interviewing tactics to keep the flow of the podcast exciting and less robotic, so your listeners stay engaged. If you’re looking to “Wow” your listeners, this session is for you!

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Humans have had an innate desire to share their stories and spread their ideas for thousands of years. From cave paintings, myths, and legends to Shakespeare, stories were passed down from one generation to the next.

But how effective is a story when the only method of transmission is an uninterrupted line of sight between those listening or reading?

Luckily, all this changed in the 1800s with the genius of three people:

  • ¬†Samuel Morris who invented the telegraph.
  • ¬†Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone
  • ¬†Guglielmo Marconi who invented the radio.

Since then, storytelling has taken on a whole new life. All due to the capability to transmit instant communications over vast distances.

Fast forward to 2021, where podcasts have taken the world by storm. They provide a fantastic medium to entertain, humor, educate, and wow your podcast listener. But it’s more than that.

Podcasting is a way for the everyday person who isn’t a radio talk show host or television personality to spread their ideas. We all now have the power to change the world with our ideas our stories.

One of my favorite TEDx talks is by Julian Treasure. He opened his talk with,

“The human voice, it’s the instrument we play the most powerful sound in the world. It’s the only one that can start a war or say I love you.”

Yet many people find that people don’t listen to them when they speak. Why is that?

This post is a transcription of one of the talks from our PodPros Quarterly Virtual events.

Why Don’t People Listen To What You Have To Say?

How can we speak powerfully in a way that makes a change in the world?

As podcasters, we must ask ourselves this question.

In 2021 57% of Americans listened to a podcast. That is a rise of 30% in only three years!

At the end of 2021, there were more than 2.3 million podcasts out there. Yet, only 23% are active. Why are so many podcasts experiencing ‘pod fade’? Why do they shut down after only a few episodes?

An even more important question is, why do so many podcasts suck?

 

My answer is that it’s hard to create greatness consistently.¬†It’s a challenge to deliver highly engaging and memorable podcast shows time after time.

It’s hard to evoke certain emotions such as fear, anger, amusement, happiness, and surprise that inspire people to share your idea and spread your message.

When I created my podcast, The 7 Hats, I asked myself the following questions. Why does the world need another podcast? How can I be different? And most importantly, How do I not suck?

My response was:

  • My mission needs to be unique.
  • I need to bring unexceptional guests only.
  • ¬†I have to prepare in advance so I can guide the guests in a way that tells a story worth sharing.

I want to discuss three ideas to help you wow your podcast listeners.

#1 How to Find Exceptional Guests

So how do I find exceptional guests? Well, you have to start with the end in mind. Who is your ideal avatar? Who’s listening on the other side?

You might think that you’re the hero of your podcast. You might think that your guest is the hero, but the reality,¬†your listeners are the hero of your podcast.

Why? Because they’re the ones that spread the message!

Once you understand who your ideal listener is, search out the places where they congregate. What podcast do they subscribe to? What blogs are they reading? Which social media groups are they on? What kind of YouTube videos do they watch frequently?

By understanding your listener and knowing where they spend their time, you can easily find those teachers, coaches, writers, speakers, or personalities that your listeners seek.

You’ll also get a sense of incredible topics to discuss. In these places, your listeners are already telling you what they want to hear more of. The golden nuggets are in their social posts, Google searches, the blogs they read and the podcasts they listen to.

Another option I use frequently is platforms where podcast hosts are matched with podcasts guests.¬†PodMatch¬†is a great example. Think of it as your favorite dating app, but instead of finding dates, you’re booking interviews!

podmatch-platform

Also, don’t forget about your avatar’s desires. You will often find that there is too much demand for your little supply. So choose wisely.

Finally, LinkedIn is my preferred social media platform for connecting with future guests.

As you can see, if you know the kind of guests you want, there isn’t a shortage of ways to connect.

Now I have to point out that it’s imperative to reach out to your guests appropriately. I won’t go into this subject in this post, but I will say that there are plenty of templates out there on your favorite search engine. Just type podcast guest request template, and voila, 1.2 million links you can click on.

Related: Your Roadmap To Crafting The Perfect Podcast Pitch

#2 How To Research Your Guest

Now that you have your guest lineup, how do you research your guests and prepare questions that guide them through the interview?

Here, your favorite search engine is going to be your best friend. Search a guest by name or look them up on LinkedIn. Do they have their own podcast, or have they appeared as guests on other podcasts? Have they written a book? Do they own a company? The list goes on and on.

You want to find out where they’ve been, what they said and who interviewed them in the past.

Personally, I don’t just scroll through the first page of the results. I go all the way to the end. Why?

Because you don’t want to miss out on the gold nuggets that reside on page 15 of your search.

Especially if the guest is not well-known, as will often be the case when you first start your podcasting career.

Next, I will send them a¬†pre-interview survey. This method has its pros and cons. On the one hand, you can gather information that isn’t available in the public domain. It also allows your guests to get a good feel for the types of questions you will ultimately ask.

In the survey, you can ask them for their unique qualifications regarding a specific topic of the show. Or some wild and crazy facts that could be a point of connection between them and your listeners.

The downside of this approach is that they might not complete the survey promptly or even at all. People are busy and you risk pushing them away. Either way, I will send a survey if I need more info.

Here’s The Critical Step Most Podcast Hosts Skip

Now, it’s time for the work that 99% of other podcast hosts fail to do. Read up as much as you can about your guest. If they have published a book, read it. If they are a podcast host, listen to as many podcast shows as possible. Read every bio or article written about your guests. Anything that can arm you with the information you need to craft your story and set up your questions.

In my case, I created a template on the note-taking app, Notion. But you can use another tool like Evernote or even a piece of paper.

I’ve structured it into the following sections:

  • Episode number and name of the guest at the top
  • Social media links. These are going to be great for your show notes.
  • Their bio. If their bio doesn’t exist, I write it myself.
  • The topics I think will be critical to address during our show. These act like a kind of framework for me to follow.
  • Finally, I have all the notes from my research.

With the topics, framework, and notes at hand, I then craft my intro. The purpose of the intro is to set the stage and make sure that the listeners are engaged and eager to listen to the rest of the show.

After the intro is ready, I craft the questions in three segments.

Segment one is the background, or where it all started.

Segment two is the meat of the story, how their story applies to my audience. Then the final segment or what I like to call the close. I like to end with the same question, but ultimately the close is really up to you and the type of show you produce.

Your job is to keep it flowing, keep it interesting. Offer an angle that has not been tried in the past by anyone else, and make sure to tell a great story.

That being said, the reality is it’s not easy to tell a great story and wow podcast listeners. So if you need a little support, look up Michael Hague. You can also reach out to me on social media, and I’ll connect you with his work. No one else helps storytellers tell a great story. He’s worked with the likes of Will Smith and Russell Brunson.

#3 How To Navigate The Interview In A Way That Doesn’t Sound Robotic

Now you have your guests booked; you’ve researched and crafted engaging questions to ask them. But how do you navigate the interview so that it doesn’t sound robotic and too structured?

If you just ask one question after another, you will sound like so many other podcasts out there. All these hosts who just fire off question after question and come off as robotic, and in my opinion boring.

Look at the greatest interviewers out there, Larry King, Oprah, Charlie Rose, Joe Rogan. What do they have in common?

They all have a set of questions that they pre-write before the interview, right? Yes. But they don’t sound like they’ve written those questions ahead of time. They don’t sound robotic or structured.

They have a conversation and they tailor their questions according to that discussion. Actually, what they really have is a skill that most of us struggle with. They listen.

I may have 30 questions in front of me, but I might only ask 15 of them. I do so by listening to what the guest is saying. If the guest veers off-topic, I transition them back to where I was initially heading towards in my timeline.

It’s an internal navigation system. As a host, I must have one to change directions so that I don’t veer off the path and get lost.

By researching and planning in advance, you will have a clear beginning. The conversations might take an unknown path, but you always have a clear ending point that you don’t lose sight of.

Did you learn something new or valuable in this post? We have more amazing podcast-related content in our PodPros Quarterly Virtual events.

 To Wrap Up

I remember when I rented my first car with a navigation system from Hertz, it was called Never Lost. Why? Because when you started your journey, no matter which turn you took, it got you to the final destination.

You need to be that navigation system for your guests and shows.

Let me ask you a question:

What would the podcast world be like if podcast hosts took the time to really understand the life, the challenges and the emotional essence of their guests?

Let’s up our game as podcasters and take this medium to places that it has never gone before. Let’s innovate and let’s tell our story in a way that wows our podcast listeners. Do you know why? Because it’s an idea worth sharing.

About Yuval Selik:

Founder of two successful companies and the host of The 7 Hats, a podcast where Yuval interviews inspiring entrepreneurs in the hopes of helping them develop and gracefully balance the seven critical areas of their lives so that they’re able to IMPACT the world, AND also find true fulfillment along the journey.