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39953Re: [podcasters] Tips for interviews

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  • Steve Riekeberg
    Sep 1 1:31 PM
      Hey Stephen,

      After doing Geek Cred for nearly four years now, as an interview-centric
      show I can say it's certainly very fun rewarding.

      Many of the points you mentioned are similar to advice that I would
      give, most of all /just ask. /(I've had people often ask "how'd you get
      <Guest XYZ>?!" Well, you don't get what you don't ask for...)

      However, I do take exception to sharing your questions with the gust
      ahead of time. It is most assuredly important to write up a list of
      questions in advance, but I specifically do /not/ share them with the
      guest. I totally understand the reasoning of wanting the guest to be
      prepared and ready when you bring something up, but at the same time
      some guests will take that list too far and prepare manufactured answers
      and/or freeze up when you go off the list.

      Admittedly, it depends a lot on the tone and format of your show. In the
      case of Geek Cred, it's more conversational and long-form (30-40
      minutes), and I'm usually interviewing someone for something specific,
      such as a project they are working on. I /do/ however give the guest an
      overview ahead of time of points and topics I intend to cover so that
      they can be prepared, but I don't go so far as specific questions.


      At the very least, something to think about...

      Steve Riekeberg
      Host, Geek Cred
      <http://www.geekcred.net>

      On 8/29/10 8:08 PM, Stephen Nelson wrote:
      >
      > Hello all,
      >
      > My show has featured more and more interviews recently, and I've been
      > learning by trial and error the best way to perform interviews. I've
      > come up with the following tips, and I'd like to know what I've missed.
      >
      > 1. Don't be afraid to ask for an interview.
      >
      > Doing an interview will cost the interviewee little and might bring in
      > a great deal of benefit. Mine is a small skeptical podcast, but
      > comparatively famous skeptics seem quite happy to appear. I've only
      > been turned down (or rather ignored) once, and that was on quite a
      > long shot.
      >
      > 2. Write up your questions in advance.
      >
      > This, for me, is the most time-consuming part of the interview
      > process. I try to read everything that this person has ever published,
      > if they're an author, and read enough of any blogs they've written to
      > get an understanding of what they're all about. If they've been
      > interviewed elsewhere, I listen to those interviews. This can take weeks.
      >
      > 3. Split the difference between set pieces and new questions.
      >
      > Most people that have been interviewed a few times develop some set
      > pieces-- good stories that they can tell with great skill during an
      > interview. Figure out which of these set pieces you want to include
      > and remap your questions accordingly. However, many people that
      > subscribe to your podcast will have heard this person interviewed
      > before. Try to make sure that you include the set pieces that you know
      > are interesting and good, and new questions.
      >
      > 4. Have some emergency backup questions in case you run out of material.
      >
      > I did an interview fairly recently where I hadn't prepared enough.
      > About halfway through, I realized I had nothing more to ask and was
      > unclear on what to say next. Since then, I've always had several
      > open-ended questions that I use for a jumping-off point.
      >
      > 5. Share the questions with the interviewee before the interview.
      >
      > I email my question list in advance. I generally start things off with
      > a disclaimer stating that this question list is not set in stone--
      > I'll be improvising around it-- but that I'll have it in front of me
      > during the interview. It gives the interviewee a chance to say, "I
      > don't know anything about that" about a particular question and avoids
      > an awkward moment. Sending the questions beforehand helps to establish
      > that you're both on the same side.
      >
      > 6. Have the interviewee's book with you.
      >
      > If the author has a book, you'll probably be referring to it by title
      > many times. It's handy to have it sitting next to you so that you can
      > just read it off. If the interviewee doesn't have a book, write their
      > name and other important names down in large letters so that you can
      > read it off and avoid sounding like an idiot.
      >
      > 7. Listen during the interview.
      >
      > There are many distractions during an interview. Is the recorder still
      > running? What question am I going to ask next? Is this going well? The
      > biggest challenge is to clear your mind and really focus on what your
      > interviewee is saying. This can be most challenging when they're doing
      > a set piece that you've heard before, but stay focused and listen to
      > every word. That will help you segue to the next question naturally.
      >
      > 8. Don't be afraid to stop the interview.
      >
      > Unless you're doing a live show, what you're doing can always be
      > edited down. If you feel uncomfortable, or run out of material, or
      > don't know where to go next, there's nothing stopping you from pausing
      > for a few seconds to make editing easy, saying, "Let's stop for a
      > second," and chatting with the interviewee on where to go next. Unless
      > this is an adversarial interview, there's no harm in it-- you're both
      > on the same side.
      >
      > 9. Thank the interviewee.
      >
      > Make sure that the interviewee knows how much you appreciate the
      > interview. Keep him or her informed as to its edit status and when the
      > podcast featuring it has been posted.
      >
      > I think that's enough for a start. What you you think?
      >
      > Stephen Nelson
      > Skeptical Viewer Podcast
      > http://www.skepticalviewer.com
      >
      >


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