Guide to Conducting Great Interviews for Audio Courses (& Podcasts)

The unexpected things you need to know about interviewing guests for podcasts and audio courses.

We have been podcasters for years and love the power of the interview format.

Your audio course doesn't have to include other voices, but including others provides a new perspective and a nice change of pace for the listener.

Finding the right person to interview

Look for someone who adds value, knowledge, or insight to your course. Who can share insights your audience doesn’t already know? Ask yourself: “Would talking to this person be helpful for my students?”

Look for "great talkers"

Sometimes the best guest isn't the one with the most expertise, but the person who's the best talker and explainer of ideas. You want enthusiasm, clarity and a good conversation.

Find others like you

Are there others out there who do what you do? Who else is a teacher or an expert on the same subject as you? Are there other great teachers you admire? Could you get their perspective in an interview? Other online course creators may see this as an opportunity to build their brand and win new customers.

Consider recording a “student”

Instead of an expert, it could also be helpful to teach your subject to a person and record it. In that case, you could simply bring in a family member or a friend. You might find they ask similar questions to those your students would have. Listening to someone else being taught or coached can give your students a different kind of insight into the material.

How to conduct a great interview

Interviewing is a craft. Most people can’t just sit down in front of a mic and nail it on their first try. It takes practice and energy. It takes commitment to research and knowing how to get revealing answers out of your interview subjects.

Be prepared both with your equipment and your research. Make the interviewee feel at ease. If you can, try to set scenes with your interviews, either before or after you’ve done them. But more than anything: listen, listen, listen. If you're talking more than they are, you're doing it wrong!

Follow these steps to get the most of your interviews

  1. Double-check your gear - A bad battery or failure to press “record” can ruin everything. We have all been there and it’s horrible.
  2. Check your sound - How does the interviewee sound on mic? Ask them a few basic, meaningless questions while you adjust your recording levels. (“What did you have for breakfast?” is a standard question.)
  3. Warm-up First - Just like sports, you don’t want to jump into the main event cold. Take a few minutes to chat and allow your guest(s) to get comfortable with you and the microphone, especially if you don’t know each other. Most people need 5-10 minutes of chat before they're "warmed up" and ready to go.
  4. Prepare - Read everything you can and write down notes and questions ahead of time. Try to have a logical flow to the interview, but be ready and willing to drop everything you’ve prepared if the conversation takes a turn toward something else. Managing the flow of the conversation is one of the most important, but tricky, elements to a good interview. You want to leave room for surprises and unexpected reveals, but you don't want the interview to go off the rails.
  5. Ask Follow-ups - It can be difficult initially to listen and prepare the next questions, but the best answers actually come from diving deeper. Why did they do what they did? What were they thinking? Never cut people off at the end of their answers. Use silence to keep your interviewee talking. The best answers often come after a period of silence. Never talk first.
  6. Keep rolling - Don’t stop recording until the interviewee has left your presence, hung up on Zoom, etc. Sometimes your best moment will happen after you’ve ended the "official" interview. If you plan to use one of these unguarded moments in your final cut, get clearance from your guest in case they were under the assumption the interview was over.

Ask great questions

  • Researching everything on your guest beforehand will help you create better questions. Listen to all the other podcasts they’ve been on and read their blog posts.
  • Ask both general and specific questions that result in answers that are useful as well as interesting for your audience.
  • Make sure that most of your questions are open-ended rather than a simple yes or no.
  • Ask follow-up questions. The more specifics the better. You can always cut back later, but you can't add content.

Use your interview throughout your course

This might sound obvious, but your guest could (and hopefully will) say insightful things that may be helpful to your students in multiple lessons. You don’t have to play your interview in one go. Instead, break it up and use different clips in different lessons wherever they’re relevant to your course.

Ask your guest to promote the course

One big benefit of having guests on your audio course or podcast is the opportunity to leverage their following. When your course is live, follow up with the guests and ask them to post to their personal and company social media pages.

Everyone has a following nowadays and even small dedicated followers can convert to a lot of listens! Guests are usually proud to be interviewed as an expert and will probably be happy to share the course with their followers.

If the guests is a large part of your course, it may be fair to discuss a revenue split with them as well.

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