Updated: Aug 23
Podcast interviews are one of the most common styles of podcasts and the easiest to make mistakes that cost you listeners. Any podcast host can lead a compelling discussion, but you need to know how to do it to keep a listener engaged!
And it’s not just about the list of questions you ask. Here are the top three common mistakes we see podcast hosts make and how you can avoid making them too.
1. Asking multiple questions within one question. Asking numerous questions is tempting because the host wants to explain their question better. Or the host believes that asking more questions will help the guest to elaborate more on the topic.
However, this will backfire for you every time. Your job as the host is to lead your guest. So with every question, imagine what their response might be.
You won’t know precisely what they’ll say, but you can ask yourself, “Which question will lead me to achieve the answer I’m seeking?”
Remember that a person will likely answer the first question you ask in a sequence or the last question you ask and forget the rest. So make it easy for them and ask the one question you want to be answered.
[For example, interviewing a HIIT Instructor]
❌ How did you get into fitness? Would you say you were always in love with fitness? And what made you gravitate toward HIIT training?
✅ What made you fall in love with HIIT training?
2. Starting the interview with “Tell me about yourself.” This is the most common mistake I see podcast hosts make! Why? Because this question is incredibly natural in the flow of a conversation.
It also lends authority to your guest; why do they have the right to tell me about this particular topic?
Of course, the guest should tell us about themselves!... right?
But remember, once you edit the conversation, you’ll have placed an intro directly before the interview in which you share accolades about your guest.
Your show notes also will explain who your guest is. Asking your guest this question becomes quite repetitive in the layout of the final podcast episode and may lead to you losing your listener.
Also, no matter how polished your guest is, asking this open-ended question will usually lead them to drone on and add parts of their story that the listener doesn’t care about.
If your listener has to wait 10 minutes into an episode to hear what they came to hear, they probably won’t stick around. 😢
[For example, interviewing a meditation teacher]
❌ Tell me about yourself.
✅ Can you tell us what meditation is?
3. Not using active listening. Active listening in any conversation is important, but even more so on a podcast!
Active listening is the practice of observing and then providing relevant feedback.
Guests and listeners alike will appreciate your attentiveness here as you lead the guest through a conversation that feels like a journey.
Yes, you can prepare your interview questions, but make sure you listen to the guest and let their answers direct the conversation.
A great way to practice this is by replying to a guest’s answer with, “It sounds like you’re saying…,” and then reflecting on what you’ve just heard in your own words.
[For example, interviewing a yoga teacher]
❌ Okay. And [next question].
✅ It sounds like you’re saying that yoga can make you more resilient. I am reminded of the movement “Off the mat and into the world.” Is that similar?
The biggest thing to remember here is that: if you remove the microphones, headphones and recording devices, you’re just two humans having an educational conversation.
If you get lost, take a moment and refer to your interview questions. Awkward pauses and phrases can be removed in post-production audio editing!
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