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Should you conduct a pre-interview with your podcast guest?

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Is it a time waster?

Conducting a pre-interview might seem like a pain in the butt when you’ve already got so much to do for each episode but it can really help you get the most out of your podcast guest.

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It stops you wasting time in the actual interview

If you spend time during the pre-interview working out the best stories and advice your guest will be able to offer, you’ll be more able to focus the interview on those areas.

Often you can get a lot of this from research.  But if there’s not much online about your guest a quick phone chat can be a simpler way of honing in on the interesting bits so you don’t waste time when you’re recording.

The last thing you want to do is book 30 minutes with someone only to only get to the good stuff 20 minutes in.  A pre-interview can help you avoid that.

It helps you build rapport with your guest

Meeting someone for the first time when you’re both in front of a microphone isn’t the most natural relaxed atmosphere to get to know each other.

Having a chat on the phone before you start recording can help you understand your guests conversational style and rhythm.  It can also give you an opportunity to get to know each other so that when you do start the questioning you’ve already developed a relationship.

The more time you have to get to know each other and build trust, the better the final interview will be.

You can ask them if there’s anything they’d like to focus on

Often your research can only turn up so much and your guest might have something unique or different to offer that wouldn’t come out in the questioning.

Asking them if they have any specific advice, a story or anything else they want to cover can be a good way to turn up those gems.

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You can set expectations

Your guest will always feel more at ease if they know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you e.g. How are you going to conduct the interview?  Who’s your audience? What would you like them to prepare? What’s the structure of the chat?

The more information you can give them, the better.

You can check if they’re good talent

Not everyone is a great talker and since all you have is audio, if they can’t have a conversation it’s probably not worth having them on.

It’s better to find this out on the phone rather than when you’re sitting there ready to press record.

You can establish their boundaries

This is particularly important if you’re conducting a sensitive interview.

It’s a good idea to ask your guest if there are any topics they’d prefer not to discuss or any no-go areas.

It’s better to get this out of the way on the phone than in the actual interview.  It also helps your guest feel like they’re in safe hands.

You can make sure you’re pronouncing their name right

It’s always a good idea to do that before you get them offside by saying it wrong 700 times in the interview.

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How can you conduct a pre-interview?

Over the phone

If you can get them on the phone that’s great because it’s a better way to build rapport than over email.

Hearing your guests conversational rhythm and working out how they respond to you can be very useful things to know before going into a chat.

Pre-interview survey

If you’re interviewing a lot of people and you know there are certain areas you’re always going to cover a survey can be a great option.

Just make sure the answers can be given quickly because no one wants to feel like they have to do homework to come on your show (unless your show is a really big deal).

Learn how to podcast in PodSchool

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Things to remember if you’re conducting a pre-interview

Don’t do the interview in the pre-interview

You want to get a sense of the best questions to ask, or where to focus the chat but you don’t want to know everything.  If your guest is telling a funny story it’s best to hear that for the first time when you’re recording.

Don’t fake it

If you know where a story is going, don’t feel like you have to say “OMG!  Are you kidding?”  Your listeners wil be able to tell if your reaction is authentic and you don’t want them thinking you’re faking it.

You’re the host so you should be guiding the conversation and that means it’s ok if you know where it’s going.  It’s your listeners that should be learning about things for the first time.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

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