So you’ve got an amazing radio show, you’re playing the latest and greatest tunes each week and everyone’s loving it. ‘What’s next?’, you ask yourself. A big interview with a special guest, that’s what. But don’t panic about your big moment, below is everything that you need to do to ensure that your interviews are top-notch and hopefully you’ll be bagging even bigger guests before you know it.
Be prepared. Research the person, consider why you’re having them on your show, and think about what you’d like to know about them. Ideally, you should be familiar with their Twitter, Instagram, blog - anything you can find. It’s likely that the artist has been interviewed numerous times, so read some of these interviews and learn more about your guest so that you can avoid obvious questions. If they get asked ‘who is your biggest influence’ or other predictable questions every time, they’ll get bored of repeating the same things. A bored guest is a boring guest, which will ultimately mean bored listeners. Conversely, a really deep, interesting question they’ve never been asked before will provoke a deep and interesting answer.
Create interesting questions
Think of interesting things to ask and be interested in the questions yourself. Make eye contact, listen carefully and enjoy the conversation. A smile will go a long way towards making them feel at home. You may be a little nervous, especially if it’s someone you admire or you’re inexperienced as an interviewer. However, if you are super cagey and nervous, this may bring out the same energy from your guest and not lead to a great interview. The key thing here is to ‘fake it until you make it’. Make the interview a conversation. Listen to what they’re saying and try to respond naturally. This also makes your guest more comfortable and you might get some moments that prompt deeper questions.
Promote your guest
The interviewee will most likely be there to promote something, so allow that to come up as naturally as possible in the conversation. Think of how you can segue from one of your main talking points into what they are here to talk about. This makes it much more natural like you’re just talking to a friend about the latest project that they’re doing. However, don’t just talk about their promo. Listeners don’t want to feel like they’re being advertised to.
Plan ahead with your guest
Talk to your guest beforehand. This is important to avoid awkward moments where they don’t want to talk about a particular subject. If you’re going back and forth with their management beforehand, it may well be that they give you a list of topics that they’d rather you steer away from and certain points that they want to focus on. Make sure you do familiarise yourself with this as you don’t want to hit a nerve or seem unprepared mid-interview. Remember, you’re not David Frost and you’re not trying to catch your guest out with tricky unexpected questions, but at the same time, you don’t want to go over all the talking points beforehand. It’s all about striking a balance that will come with practice.
Stay in touch
Keep in touch with your interviewee afterwards. Send them an email or letter thanking them for coming on. They’ll really appreciate you taking the time to think about them and it will help to build up an ongoing relationship. Hopefully, they’ll be so happy with the experience they had that they’ll be keen to come back on. With any luck, they’ll even plug your show on their own socials and you’ll get a load of promo for free.
Ask open-ended questions
Make sure that your questions don’t just prompt simple one-word answers. Questions that start with things like “do you” or “are you” prompt simple yes or no responses. Consider switching to more open-ended questions like how and why things happen. This encourages the guest to expand on their thoughts and say something more interesting. Otherwise, it can feel like you’re just asking questions to a magic 8-ball. On the other hand, some people will just ramble on for days if given half a chance. Of course, interrupting the guest is a bit of a last resort, although doing it in a subtle way is far better than allowing them to talk for 5 solid minutes.
One radio maestro who knows how to interview as well as anyone is B.Traits. In her long-running radio show, she mastered the art and got the most out of her guests with her natural charm and careful preparation. If you want to learn how to rule the radio like B Traits, check out her full course HERE.
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