Quick and easy tips for a podcast interview

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A podcast is a great way to share information, build content and engage with an audience. Here are some key points to get to your podcasting goals faster, with less hassle and better results.

Format of podcast

Send a guest the link to your podcast, so they can listen to previous guests and get an idea of its format. What is the angle of your podcast? How would you describe your podcast to someone in one sentence? These questions can help clarify the focus of the podcast.

Microphone

An obvious point, which can be overlooked. Make sure guests and the host are  speaking into the microphone. It is easy to make eye contact between the host and guest, in a conversation, then be “off-mic”.  Also, check the audio levels of speakers before recording to balance them.

There may be a range in the levels of speech, so you want to balance them to a similar level.  You also don’t want huge ranges in sound levels during the interview, as this can impact on the quality of files, and add to the editing process.

Ums and Ahs (And other disfluencies– ‘You Know’…‘Well Ah’…‘Like’…)

These can be distracting to the listener. It can get to the point where this is all the listener hears. Some ‘Ums and Ahs’ are fine, as this is part of natural speech. The problem is if they get excessive.

This may require some editing to reduce them. Often people don’t realise the amount of disfluencies they use, so a test recording is a way to gauge this.

Other sounds

If filming on location, try to find a quiet place to avoid background sounds. Background sounds can be a distraction and also make editing difficult.  Test out the recording levels beforehand, the microphones can be sensitive to sound, so even someone talking ‘on the other side of the room” may be picked up by the recorder.

Some other incidental sounds to be aware of are: a hand clapping tapping,  jewellery shaking, paper rustle and a moving swivel chair.

If recording inside, consider the natural sound of the room, such as, is the room ‘too echoey’. If recording outside, the sound of wind can ruin a recording.

Pre-interview

You want to relax the guest, they may be nervous, they may have never done this before. Even people with extensive media experience can get nervous. So general chat before the interview can be helpful. Review the questions of what will be covered. Also, remind the guest that the interview is not live, so if a mistake is made, the question can be redone.

When the interview starts, the first few questions should be easy to answer, so the guest and host can get into the rhythm of the interview.

The reverse is also true about guests, they may get ‘a bit excited’.  They could talk too fast, or in the heat of the moment, reveal something they shouldn’t have said. So it’s important to protect the guest, and edit out content that could cause the guest problems. (You can ask them, “Can we keep this bit in?) You can also send the guest a copy of the finished interview beforehand, so they can check it first, so they are happy with it.

You don’t however want the guest dictating too much what is in the interview. More about avoiding any real clunkers, or perhaps editing has made a point in the interview unclear.

If however, the podcast is more of a debate situation with opposing views, no editing or guest approval may be needed. It all depends on the arrangement for the interview.

Preparation

Each guest should be well researched. Open questions improve the flow of a discussion.

Have the questions in front of you. Have a structure to follow, but be prepared to go in different directions with interviews. Give the guest a list of the questions before the interview to help them prepare.

How long is the interview?

Regardless of how long you’re planning the episode to be, it’s helpful to have extra content, for the editing process. Such as, if you are aiming for a 20 minute podcast, a 30 minute interview allows you editing options, such as cutting out sections that are not relevant, or not as important to the theme of the discussion.

Drinking water

Have a glass of water for guests and hosts during the interview. Offer them a class, before the interview starts. Room temperature or warm water is best. Not cold.

Plan B

A backup recording can be handy, just in case something goes wrong with your main file. For example, having a smartphone with a microphone placed near your guest.

What equipment does your guest have? If for example, you are recording a guest in a different location, check the quality before the interview of their equipment.

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