The Art of the Podcast Interview

Podcasting is not all that new. Podcasting has its roots in  “audioblogging” dating back to the 1980s. With the advent of broadband Internet access and portable digital audio playback devices such as the iPod, podcasting began to catch hold in late 2004.  Since the pandemic, it’s blown up.  The heart of the podcast is the interview or the story and it’s what separates the good ones from the one-hit wonders.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m still learning this craft.  The following is what I’ve learned so far.

Step one is to determine your audience.  Creating an avatar of the listener you want to speak to can help with content, and marketing.

Next, you have to decide the podcast type you will use.  Episodic where each episode has its own topics and can be listened to in any order or serial where the entire season tells a story that must be listened to in order.    It’s helpful to also think about the release schedule as it will help define your season length.

Once this is determined you can go to work and creating episode topics.  This can be anything from a very loose “we’ll talk about this” to a semi-scripted outline.  But it helps to have everyone on the same page.

In a good negotiation or creative problem solving as it’s also referred to, the first step isn’t the negotiation.  I’ve learned that the same can be said for a good interview.  The first step isn’t the interview.   It’s actually the third.  The first two are preparation and information exchange.    Preparation involves researching the topic to find information and different perspectives.  What can you learn about the topic and what questions do you have?  Who are the experts or people that are involved in trying to make a difference in the topic area? At the time of this blog entry, The Fair Debt podcast is unpublished and therefore currently an unknown source, therefore reaching out to the experts or guests that will be able to speak on the chosen topic is necessary.  Without exception potential guests have been receptive and generous with their time.  I’m finding that people want to connect and tell their stories.

Great podcasts are easy to listen to so the final step is to discuss sound.   Part of my job is to help the guest sound as brilliant as they are.  A big part of it is as simple as having the right equipment to record the conversation.  If it is a bad audio recording we can only do so much in post-production editing! Remember garbage in, garbage out.  However, to really get this right there are 3 parts to the perfect podcast recording recipe. 

 The first part is on me as the interviewer. I’ve also discovered that the actual recorded interview goes much smoother if I have an introductory call.  In this pre-interview call, we meet each other, usually via zoom, and discuss the topic and the questions I have prior to the actual recorded interview.  It’s a great way to get the conversation started and get comfortable so the conversation will flow.  Much like a couple of old friends just catching up on the back of a tailgate.  My job as an interviewer is to pursue interestingness and find the moments the guest has forgotten about.  To be a tour guide to help tell the story that needs to be told and that will add value to the audience.

Part 2 is the environment and a few simple details can make a big difference such as finding a quiet place for the conversation.  Making sure all potential noisemakers are turned off or taken care of ahead of time (phones, email, kids, pets, etc).  And being mindful to not bump the table, rock in a chair, scoot things around the desk, click pens, or anything else that may make noise. It’s amazing what the mic can pick up.

Part 3 is the equipment.  Generally speaking, the microphone and speakers that are built into most computers won’t provide the sound quality we need. They’ll mess with volume, tone and sometimes give feedback. So we try not to use them.  Even a microphone that is built into earbuds is better than the typical computer microphone. Other tips such as making sure the computer speakers are turned completely down and the computer is set up to hear sound through headphones or earbuds instead will help avoid feedback and electronic echo in the recording.

Also, making sure a hardwired or at least a suitable wireless connection is in place to avoid drag or buffering.   With all of these essential items checked off, we’re finally ready to record the interview.  

Podcasting is rapidly growing and hopefully, this information will help you if you have the opportunity to be part of one.  Here are a few helpful resource links to help you get started if you decide you want to try podcasting out for yourself.  

The Definitive Podcast Directory List

31of the best podcasting guides 

Help us spread the word, grow our reach and deliver our message to the world by sharing your thoughts and enthusiasm for this podcast and/or your favorite episodes on social media, and please make sure to review, make comments and subscribe or follow the show on Apple or Spotify.  This helps tremendously.