Sometimes I listen to a podcast and I can almost see the questions the podcast interviewer is asking. I picture them clutching to these questions like it’s a floating door next to the almost sunk Titanic.
Somewhere, someone in the podcasting world told people to create 5-8 stock questions and ask every guest the same questions. I get it. It offers consistency. And, I will admit, it has worked for some. But, I’m sorry to report, it doesn’t for most.
And, if I’m being totally honest (and kind of an asshole) which I always am… it’s LAZY!
Okay, okay – there’s a chance that you’re not lazy. Maybe, at some point, you created these stock questions so that your show serves your listeners needs. But, are they still?
You may have been convinced that this was a way for your show to be consistent. And, it is. Consistently boring! Oh, all right. I’ll stop being a hard ass.
Podcast Interview Tips to Keep Your Listener Loving and Downloading Your Show
Let me just say this. Stock questions – asking the same questions of your guest each episode – can provide a sense of familiarity for your listener. It may also keep your show consistent. However, there are some red flags to watch out for.
Should You Ask the Same Questions Each Podcast? Not if you start seeing these red flags:
- Your guest is on to you and shows up with prepared answers. Now your podcast sounds like a 3rd grade speech contest with cue cards and all. Or, a production at a small town community theatre with amateur actors.
- You stop caring about the answer and skip right to the next question.
- Your guest becomes noticeably annoyed because you are not talking to them, you are talking at them.
- You start to get comments from fans that they are tired of the questions
- You start to see a dropoff in your downloads, engagements, leads, or conversions
All too often, these stock questions become a safety blanket and let me be the first to say that staying safe is boooooring for your listener.
Here at podcast performance coach, we subscribe to listener-first podcasting. So, ask yourself, are you asking the same questions each episode because that is going to give your listener the absolute best experience?
Chances are, the answer is no. In a perfect, well produced podcast world, you would research your guest and figure out what it is that they can actually deliver to your listener. Then, develop your questions around pulling out all of their best ideas, info, and stories.
Yes. This will take more time but it will also lead to a better podcast. But, since I know we don’t live in a perfect, well produced podcast world, you may need to stick to a template or outline.
If you are going to use a set of stock questions or a templated outline, here are some tips for keeping it fresh and interesting for you audience:
#1 Follow the conversation. Don’t pass up opportunities to take the discussion further even if it means throwing away all of your other questions. If your guest is laying a golden egg, don’t pass it by – pick it up and run with it! The trick here is that you have to listen and stay present in the conversation (not be checking what the next question is).
#2 Don’t telegraph your questions. I hear this all the time, ‘my next question is…’ or ‘I/we always ask our guests…’ This is not only a dead giveaway that you are phoning it in, but it pulls the listener out of the experience because now they are thinking about the production. Trust me, they prefer the wizard to stay behind the curtain – nobody needs to see the messy mechanics! And, we don’t need to know that this is your next question… it’s going to be pretty damn obvious that it’s your next question when you ask it! A great interview is well planned but it FEELS spontaneous!
#3 Freshen up those stale questions. Even if you are going to ask the same set of questions to each of your guests, you can change the way you ask those questions. Use different words, change how you ask it, give a fresh example, anecdote or piece of research (on your guest) to set up the question and make it feel fresher.
#4 Find the flow. I can tell a rookie podcast interviewer by the awkward silence right before a seemingly unrelated question. Here’s what I mean. Your guest has just given this great answer and you say something inane like, that’s so interesting. Pause. Ask the next question on your list which is unrelated. Here’s how a pro handles it… they segway. No, I don’t mean the millennial 2-wheeled fad. I mean that they create a clear connection between the last answer and the next question. This is how conversations flow and it is a skill you may need to work on. Figure out what the answer has to do with the next question and connect the two. Sometimes (hold on, this might blow your mind) you can make a better connection to a question two or three questions down the list. Heck yeah, you can do that! See tip #1.
Now I have a question for you… do you think you’re ready to stop letting stock questions take the thrill out of your podcast? That is a loaded question. I loaded it just for you.
And I hope that’s just the question you need.
If your podcast is feeling extra stale (and it’s not just the stock questions) you may be in need of a tune-up. Good news. I can help with that and the first step is to book a free 15-minute coaching call with me.
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