The Most Important Questions Happen Before you Hit Record
Podcasters ask me all the time if they should give their guests the questions before the interview. My no BS answer is – NO Way Jose. I don’t know if it’s all of the years I spent on talk radio but I am a staunch believer that giving them the questions sucks all of the fun and spontaneity out. Check out episode 31 for more of my unadulterated opinion on the subject.
But… just because you are not going to give them the questions beforehand doesn’t mean they have to be completely in the dark. In fact, that can cause all kinds of other problems – like stumbling, run-on answers, and sometimes even requests after the fact to pull the episode. Grrrr.
So, in this episode, I want to give you a few guidelines that will get your guest into that sweet spot of being a perfectly prepared podcast guest who is most likely to deliver an awesome interview. You know, the kind that feels like a natural conversation and is absolutely packed with valuable info your audience can’t get enough of? Yeah, that’s what we want and you can have it if you prep your podcast guest like a pro.
There are three key things that you want all of your guests to know:
1. Who this is For — AKA Your Audience. If you’ve listened to any of my past episodes then you knew I would start here, right? I prescribe to listener-centric podcasting which means that everything you do on your show is for the benefit of your listener. So, why not be perfectly clear with your guest about this? Let them know who is listening and encourage them to aim their information at that audience. You might also prompt them by saying, I’m sure my audience will love to hear stories from your experience that directly relate to managing their busy life as a mompreneur, for example. Or, you might say, I love what you shared in your book and I hope you’ll be able to explain how these ideas could apply to golfers trying to get into the PGA, for example.
2. The Topic. No, this is not obvious. Help your guest prepare for their interview by letting them know which specific part of their expertise you’ll be tapping into. And of course, remind them that you’ll be looking for them to make it particularly relevant to your specific audience. See tip #1. We also suggest that you give them the basic outline of the conversation. Just enough so they get a sense of the flow – not each question. You might say something like, we’ll start with the general topic breakdown, then I’ll be looking for an example or story of this concept as it relates specifically to my audience, and then I’m sure I’ll have a few questions around next steps for anyone implementing your ideas and finally, I’ll let everyone know how to connect with you.
3. How it’s Going to Go Down. Give your guests all of the specifics around the recording and what to expect once they connect with you. Also, be super clear about your minimum tech requirements from them — otherwise, they’ll show up on their phone talking through a Bluetooth mic as they shop for bags of chips. Let them know how long it will take. How you run your recording session (maybe you have time to chat before you hit record or maybe you’re an all-in, live-to-tape kind of person). And, you might want to gather their social channels and other info from them ahead of time so you can reassure them you’ll be the one sharing it so they don’t feel the need to plug, plug, plug.
All of this happens well in advance of your podcast recording session and should help your guest prepare without dolling out stiff and rehearsed answers. You will still want to warm them up before you hit record, but if you follow these three steps they’ll be a lot more relaxed and excited to jump in.
So, once again – tell them who they are talking to, give them the topic and basic flow of the episode, and make sure they are prepared to sound great by clearly laying out the expectations you have of them on a technical front.
Your guest will feel completely taken care of, you’ll feel more in control of your own show, and your audience will get what they came for – great content, well delivered.
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