What most people don't realize is that recruiting guests for your podcasts can be both science and art. The scientific aspect comes from looking for people who seem to have the experience which would benefit your audience and have the potential to be a solid connection to make for you the host. Sometimes you can do this by job title. For example, if you have a podcast focusing on customer experience, you can look for people with job titles like "Director of Customer Experience" or "VP of Customer Relations". Other times it can relate to experience or topic. For example, Kiri Mohan hosts "The $1 Million Tipping Point Podcast" where she interviews women who broke the 7-figure mark with their businesses. She looks for women who fit that category.
The drawback is just because they have the potential to be the right fit doesn't mean they will automatically be engaging interviews. This is where the art comes in. These are three types of guests which require nuance for a successful dialogue. Being aware of these guests and knowing how to help them through the interview will make a wonderful experience for them and excellent content for both of you.
The Guest Who Provides Short Answers
I don't think there is a way to identify this ahead of time. Usually you discover this after they have answered your second question and you realize the recording has only been going for 2 minutes 12 seconds. I vividly remember two guests who fell into this category. With the first guest, I had anticipated a 30 minute recording and I barely ended up with 13 minutes of content. In the second interview, I had a much larger list of questions and ended up using all of them--I did get the 30 minutes of content from that interview. I learned from these experiences to have more questions prepared to use than I will likely need. I also realized the importance of having standard follow up questions to use in a variety of situations. If you have an abundance of questions and potential follow ups on hand, it can take some of the stress out of these interviews.
The Guest Who Wanders Aimlessly in Their Answers
Whereas you will use every tool in the toolbox to get some guests to answer questions, the opposite can be true with other guests who will meander everywhere if you allow them and never seem to take a breath. As the host, your job is to guide the conversation in the right direction. I describe it as "trying to keep it between the ditches".
How to solve for chatty guest who ambles everywhere? Start by making sure you know what you want to cover in the conversation and what you want to ask. If you think the conversation is starting to go off the rails, use the next pause to ask a question that gets you back on track. I will say something like, "let me pivot a bit and ask . . . " then go with the next question on my list. This reigns in the conversation without any issues. Use this tactic more than once if the conversation continues to get off track. I also keep a close eye on the clock to make sure we do not go beyond our interview time.
The Guest Who has Never Been on a Podcast Before
This is not so much a challenge as just being aware. The first time you guest on a podcast can be terrifying (the same goes for the first time you host a podcast). You dread sounding foolish. When you first log onto the call and before you press record, ask the guest about their previous experience with podcasts.
If this is their first time, I will always tell them these three things. First, our goal is not to sound smart, but to have a conversation. If you try to sound smart, your brain will lock and your answers will sound forced. (It's okay to use these last two sentences verbatim with your guest if you would like). Second, pauses, ums, and ahs are fine. Third, we can do some light editing in case anything goes significantly wrong. I then give them the image of the two of us sitting down to have a cup of coffee and chatting. This is the image I want them to have before we start. Knowing this is their first podcast, I assume nothing. I talk through the outline and help them understand what to expect to reduce fear as much as possible
I learned about each of these scenarios first-hand. How I handled it in the moment was okay, yet I have changed my process and preparation to better handle these today and going forward. Being aware of what is possible let's you prepare to be successful.
Till next time!
P.S. If you only want to the do the interview and don't want to mess with all of the headaches of creating a podcast for your startup (scripting, recruiting, production, etc), my white glove podcasting will take care of all of it so you can focus on your business. Reach out if you would like to know more of what is possible.
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Published on my LinkedIn newsletter on September 29, 2023 and published through the Podcast Prep newsletter on September 19, 2023.