A podcast interview is best enjoyed by listeners when conducted in a conversational style. That doesn’t mean that, as a host, you can wing it. You have to spend some time preparing and reading up on your guest and devising an outline for the episode that you can riff off of.
But beware of too finely scripting every detail. The outline should include biographical information, an introduction, interesting points and references gathered from research data, agreed upon (and other) questions, and a conclusion. Be prepared to go off script as the conversation evolves.
Research the topic, your guest, and related items. Highlight items to discuss. Have them handy to reference during the interview. Some podcast hosts have a stack of books and articles to read about their guests before every interview. You may not have the time to do this, but don’t go into the interview cold because you know the person. This is a common mistake.
This is where you let the audience know what’s coming, including topics and highlights. This can be done during the interview or in post-production. I recommend inserting the introduction in post-production since you’ll have a better grasp of what’s covered during the interview.
Guest bios should be succinct. Just the highlights. Your listeners are eager to get to the subject matter which drew them to the podcast episode in the first place. You can include achievements and other notables at appropriate times during the interview. This can be done live or inserted during post-production. I prefer to include a short bio in the introduction during post-production, then highlight relevant accomplishments during the interview.
Welcome to the podcast
You’re ready to start the interview. Most podcasters start with “Welcome to the [title] podcast.” Introducing the guest at this point with her bio can be a nice bridge to get to the first question. Or, if you decide to add in post-production, you can jump right in and start with the first question. This is a style choice. I generally have a discussion with my guest before hitting the record button to help everyone relax and just dive in with “welcome to the podcast” when the
Prepared (and unprepared) questions
Ask your guest for a few questions they’d like you to ask them during the interview. Be prepared for follow-up questions based on their response before moving on to the next. Prepare your own follow-up questions in anticipation of the possible responses. Super important: don’t obsess on the next question during your guest’s answer to the current question or else you’ll lose the heart of episode. Remember to actively listen.
Don’t be hesitant to throw away the script if your guest goes down a particularly interesting path. You can always have them back for a follow-up interview.
Concluding the episode
To prepare your guest for wrapping up the interview, you can offer something like this:
“We’re almost out of time. Before we go, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like our audience to know?”
“How can our listeners connect or get in touch with you?” – This is usually their Twitter handle or email address, website or LinkedIn.
Prior to the podcast interview, you can share how the conversation will unfold to reassure your guest and ease their anxiety.
Other audio clips such as “follow us on iTunes (now Apple Podcasts)” and information about you, the host and sponsor of the podcast can be added in post-production.
Remind your guest that the podcast is not a live broadcast. You (and your guest) can stop and start again if a question or response wasn’t up to your satisfaction. The rough edges will be ironed out in post-production.