Becoming an Interview Master For Your Podcasts

Guest Speaker: Michael O’Neal, Host of The Solopreneur Hour Podcast

Michael O’ Neal was a web and print designer, creative director, and branding expert for over 15 years before he started podcasting. He started The Solopreneur Hour Podcast in August 2013, and the show has about 8 million downloads as of Feb, 2017. Follow Michael on Twitter at @solohour.

Notes Organized by Jocelyn, at CastBox

Many people are launching their own podcasts nowadays. But as the number of downloads and subscribers begin to fade, the passion for podcasting can go as well. One of the most effective ways to market and promote your podcast is by interviewing an influencer and having him/her make a guest appearance on your show. However, the traditional style of a back-and-forth Q&A probably wouldn’t attract lots of attention, and could even have a negative effect if people start associating your show with boring and loquacious lectures.

So, the question becomes:

How to become an interview master and how it can massively grow your podcast?

In a session hosted by the Social Media Marketing World, Michael O’Neal has shared with us his strategies on how to ace interviews. Below are the notes we organized to share with all the podcasters out there who are currently struggling with their interviewing techniques.

First, ask yourself: what is the goal of having a big influencer on your show? Having a specific target is always important before you go into any interview. Define your goal. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing you want to get out of this interview?

Also remember: don’t just ask questions. It’s really not about the questions you ask; it’s about how your guests answer your questions and how they feel after the interview. Do they get anything out of being interviewed? Do they also think this could be an informational episode that they could share with their audiences as well? Have they doled out the most helpful experiences they could share? Would they want to do more interviews with you in the future? These are all questions you need to consider before you actually get into the interview if you want to establish long-term connections with your guests.

Some people may wonder, even if I have my targeted audiences and outcome, where do I find the right person to interview? I’m a beginner in the podcasting industry, and there seems to be no way for me to connect with my ideal interviewing candidates. If you find yourself in this conundrum, don’t fret, as Michael suggests three places where you can score amazing guests:

  1. Events. Before you begin, you need to first know what your podcast’s topics, as well as what your episodes will be about in order to find the right events to attend to start building your network. Those events do not have to be podcast-related as long as they meet your needs. For example, someone is hosting a social media strategies-related podcast. What could be a useful sphere for them to look into? The Social Media Marketing World! Guests and speakers at these events are often very friendly and would love to speak to you, as that’s what they’re there for. So step out and find an event that you think is worth attending, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

  2. 3rd Parties. There are lots of places that could help you find and make connections with the perfect guests. One such place is right before your eyes. Revisit your current network of connections and see if anyone within your circle can introduce you to the right people. Never underestimate the power of connections! Use the 6 Degrees of Separation to your advantage!

  3. Other Shows. This one’s a no-brainer. One of the best ways to discover hosts like yourself is to search for and listen to podcasts within your realm of interests. Find people who inspire you, podcasters who offer interesting content that you enjoy, and invite them to guest star in one of your podcasts. This is a great way to help each other gain more subscribers and broaden your sphere of influence.

Great! Now that you’ve found the perfect guest, what kind of prep work should you do before conducting your interview?

  1. Do your homework and research your guest. Don’t just look at their “about me” section as everything there is probably too general or boring to include in your interview since everyone and their mother can easily find that information online. Make sure you pronounce your guest’s name correctly! Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” like a mispronounced name. Also, keep an eye on their social media accounts. A lot of times, you can find interesting topics to discuss you’re your guests by simply scrolling through their feeds.

  2. Make sure everything is set up correctly for the interview. Are your devices ready to record? Have you prepared enough so your interview won’t be disrupted by outside factors? Gotta double check these details before you hit the ground running!

What’s the most important thing your guests care about during your interview? For most of them, it’s the promotion factor! According to Michael, 85% of people who listen to podcasts don’t make it to the end of the show (yep that’s sad to hear, let’s pour one out for our fallen soldiers). SO, DON’T WAIT to promote your guest till the very end! Instead, promote him/her throughout the show. Make sure the promotion goes with the flow of your show and doesn’t sound awkward. After all, they are indeed doing you a favor.

And always remember to Control the Interview! Do not let your guest take over at any time. Remember to always speak narratively, and always keep “community” in your mind. You can always start with the question “tell me the story of that time when…” which could lead to a great story the guest may have never talked to anyone about before. A great question Michael suggests that everyone can ask is the question of “difference”. For instance, what’s the difference between the new you and the old you? Would you have done something differently? These are always great leading questions for guest interviews. Michael also shared with us his all-time favorite question to ask his guests at the beginning of interviews: what did your childhood smell like? According to Michael, the creative types would start answering while the data-driven people would not really understand the question. Therefore, you could then decide which direction to steer your conversation based on the answers you get to that question.

Last but not least, you must have your guests share your show to maximize the result. Don’t be shy. Be straightforward and ask your guest if he or she is willing to share your show with their audience. Once you have an on-site confirmation, don’t forget to email them later with a simple note saying “thank so much for promising to share the show.” Yep it’s tricky and may not come off as all that natural, but it always works! 80% of the people you come across are actually be willing to share the show, so remember to give out a trackable CTR for episodes or channel links, so you can calculate your results in the end.

Finally, if you are a shy host, don’t be afraid to do a pre-scripted show! Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to start with the basics.

Remember to check out and subscribe to Michael’s The Solopreneur Hour Podcast on CastBox!s

Wanna have your own podcast? You can upload your podcast/audio files and start your channel for free on CastBox.FM!

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