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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Maximilian

5 Tips On How To Record Better Podcast Interviews

Two people recording a podcast
Get comfortable when recording!

Podcasts have long been established as an exciting medium for people all over the world alike to create content, promote themselves or their business or just simply have fun while recording. Due to it's extremely high accessibility, figuring out how to record podcasts becomes a mix of personal experience while recording and while listening to others. But there are best-practice tips that we can recommend for new-comers and experts alike to make sure you give your listeners the best possible experience, and most of all get the best out of your guest.

Tip 1: Think about your listeners

Any podcast concept you're working on should come with a detailed picture of who you think would listen and why. Try to establish an idea of who your target audience is, and what they would want to know from a guest. If your podcast appeals to more than one persona that's also great, try to find common ground between them to satisfy their curiosity and interest. While target audience analysis isn't easy, a helpful tip is to imagine someone you know who has either said they would listen to your podcast, or if already released even regularly do. Keep that person in mind when asking questions, and to make sure you're not going the wrong way, you can even ask them for feedback.

Tip 2: Search for stories

Humans are natural storytellers. We've inherited the ability from our tribal ancestors who used stories to set the rules and moral codes of our societies, and therefore are naturally extremely receptive to them. The ancient Greek scholars, Shakespeares and modern-day screenwriters all make use of similar structures to tell stories, and not because they shared the same teachers. As we consume stories in the form of books, news, tweets and TV all the time, our ability to tell stories is constantly in demand. Instead of asking your guest simple open questions, ask them, if they have any stories that might relate to a topic. Of course, the experienced speakers and presenters know how to weave stories and anecdotes into their answers anyway, but novice guests could use a nudge to do so first. Overcoming negative feedback to achieve success, remembering a situation where they were confronted with a different viewpoint, going on an adventurous journey in whatever context, these all make memorable stories. Try to mix up your questions, and if your guest doesn't have a story in mind or feels put on the spot, don't fret! Not every question has to click, and that's where we use the magic of editing. In short, we've all been to parties where we were amazed at how that one person in the spotlight could grab everyone's attention by telling a story. You'd be surprised at how much story-potential we all carry within us!

When I was in school, all my friends and teachers told me not to become pancake-flipping-unicycle-rider. But I never let them stop me from achieving my goal, and look where I am now.

I'm sure you've seen this type of Linkedin post or story a billion times before, but this is how it works. Resistance, however fabricated it might be, is essential to any story. Elon Musk for instance would have a terribly boring narrative if life wasn't a rollercoaster of successes and failures.

Tip 3: Tap into visual senses

Person recording a zoom call
Where is your guest calling from?

Podcasts are mostly an all-audio format. We listen while commuting, working, doing chores or whatsoever, because podcasts are easy to multi-task with. When listening, you might not consciously imagine the hosts or guests in a studio, but when people tell meaningful stories, we can't help but fantasize. Do your listeners a favour and tap into visual senses by describing scenes and situations. This may just seem like a skill for storytelling only, but you can also use it to describe your recording situation. Instead of "You're calling from Madrid, Spain", try something like "I can see the sunlight beaming through the window in your background, where are you calling from?". Visual details help flesh out your content, give your viewers a more "complete" picture and help immerse them into the podcast.

Tip 4: Get emotional

This tip goes back to step 1 and is not applicable in all podcasts. If your podcast's USP and whole purpose is to for example provide information, be factual and focus on details, then this idea might not be for you. But if you want to get deeper into understanding the person in front of you, don't be scared of asking emotional questions. This might sound like a stereotypical therapist question, but asking "How did it feel?" can really open interesting avenues to your guests personality and story. Their answer can be extremely revealing, giving a much better insight into the person and leading away from superficialities. But be respectful, highly emotional topics are not easy to share, especially not openly to an unknown podcast audience. One way to encourage your guest into opening up, is to simply make the first step by describing your own experience - and this goes for all situations in life of course. Simply be aware of what you're asking and don't expect too much.

Tip 5: Make your guest comfortable

How your recording session goes of course doesn't just depend on your questions, it also depends on your guest. Make sure they feel comfortable, and most important of all, make sure they know what you want to achieve with the podcast. There's nothing worse than the uncertainty and awkwardness of an interview that feels like an interrogation, let your questions be guided by your guest and be natural. React to your guest's replies, let your own curiosity and interest direct the course of your conversation and just enjoy the interview!

Lawrence Maximilian, Podcast Editor and Producer

I offer support on launching podcasts, creating concepts and determining target audiences, as well as podcast editing to make the best out of your recordings. If you're in need of assistance, be sure to send an e-mail, I'd love to hear about your idea!

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