Interviews are a fantastic way to create content, whether they’re live streamed, podcasted, or created as a video on demand (or VOD). Since many of you are jumping into the world of interviewing, we thought we’d have our Community Manager, Doc Rock, share his top 10 interview tips so that you can wow your viewers, delight your guests, and grow your reach.
These interview tips are in no particular order and, quite honestly, are all equally important.
Interview Tip #1 – Be Prepared
It’s very important that you prepare for your interview.
I know, that’s sounds crazy obvious, but it’s incredibly important. If your guest has a book out – read the book. If they have a podcast – listen to their podcast. Don’t go into the interview without having a good understanding of who they are and what they’re passionate about.
Once you’ve scoped out your guest’s content, be sure to check out other interviews that they have done and see if you can pick up any nuggets there, too.
And a killer pro tip in your preparation is to find the smaller interviews. Don’t just look for the well known podcasts and live shows that you know. Try to see if they’ve been interviewed by smaller podcasters, local public radio, or a college radio. Those interviews tend to be a little bit more relaxed and authentic. You’ll find some good stuff there. One of the greatest compliments you’ll ever get from an interview guest is how did you know that?
And that’s because you did your prep work and you dug deep.
Interview Tip #2 – Don’t Fear the Icebreakers
Icebreaker questions always work. If you want a list of good icebreakers, you can do a quick internet search or listen to other interviews and jot down your favorites to keep on hand.
Icebreakers are fantastic, but definitely avoid cliche questions. The truth is that they’re just boring. One of the best things you’ll ever hear coming from a guest is when you pose a question and they say, “wow, no one’s ever asked me that before.” That’s what you want to hear, but please, by all means, avoid cliche questions.
Interview Tip #3 – Mirroring
One of the best ways to get better answers out of your guests is to use a technique that we in the business called mirroring. Mirroring is very simple and is one of my favorite of the interview tips in this post. It’s where you take the last couple of things that your guest said and you repeat it as a question back to them.
For example: if you were speaking with a baker and they had made the most elegant, wonderful croissant and you just found out that they learned how to make this croissant from a technique that they discovered in the south of France.
You can say “wow, croissants from the south of France?” And just leave that there as a question. People can’t help themselves. They will always respond to leading, mirroring questions and you’ll end up with better, deeper answers. This technique allows your guests to tell better stories. And storytelling is key to any form of communication.
Interview Tip #4 – Be Genuinely Curious
Be genuinely curious. I know it’s extremely tempting to think of your follow-up question while your guest is answering you, but try instead to really listen to what they’re saying instead.
It’s extremely important. If you want to know how to level up, become an expert in curiosity. Curiosity will make you a better listener and curious people are not boring. It’s a skill you should absolutely polish and one of the easiest of these interview tips.
Interview Tip #5 – Listen to Other Interviews
Here’s one that kind of goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Listen to the greats and take notes. In fact, you should listen to as many other interviewers do their interviews as you can.
Listen to podcasts, tune in to talk shows, listen to Oprah, listen to some of the people that you like that already provide great interviews and see what they’re doing. See if you can pick up techniques from them. I always study people when they’re doing interviews.
Interview Tip #6 – Don’t Forget Your Audience
Now this one is key. It’s very tempting for you to try to become best friends with your guest and have a private conversation between you and them. But you have to realize that there are people are listening to you that are trying to get some of their questions answered.
Whether you’re live streaming, podcasting, or creating a VOD, be sure to ask questions of your viewers, listeners, community ahead of time so that you can include their questions in your interview. And pay attention to questions that come up while you’re interviewing. After all, you’re not there to only have a conversation with your guest. You’re trying to bring value to your audience, too.
Interview Tip #7 – Don’t Ask Questions Back Stage!
Here’s a warning. Do not ask your best questions back stage before the interview begins. It never fails. You’re getting to know your guest better back stage before you start recording or live streaming and you post a question and you get an epic answer. Now you don’t have that content to share with your audience and repurpose.
And you’re like, man, I wish I had this answer for myself. But when you try to save it and come back to it later, you can never recreate that initial curiosity, energy, and it is lost for ever. Do not. I repeat, do not ask any questions back stage. Keep your questions for when you hit that start button.
Interview Tip #8 – Just Shut Up
I saved the best for less. Now, I said in the beginning that these were in no particular order, but I lied. I’m sorry. This is the most important one.
And if you throw the other seven out and only did this one tip, this will change your interviews for life. This is the best one. When I learned it, it was a game changer. It was like, I got the magic wand and that special power.
And here it is. Write this down.
Ask the question and shut up.
I know, right? It seems so silly. As the question and shut up. One of the worst things you can do as an interviewer is pose the question and give example answers. Don’t do that. Never do that. Just pose the question, hook it, and leave it. Don’t be afraid of dead air.
We call it dead air chicken when you ask the question and you just stop talking and you see how long it takes before you get the answer. And it’s a weird, awkward pause. Trust me. Ask the question and shut up. Do not lead the answers. You will get better answers if you follow this tip. I promise.
Want to host better interviews?
Did you know you can use Ecamm Live to create professional, high-quality live video, video on demand, and podcast interviews? Yep, you sure can. Visit www.ecamm.live to learn more and get started today.
Need more interview tips? Join Doc Rock and Ecamm Live members just like you in our Community to learn more, share tips and tricks, and practice.