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How to Conduct Podcast Interviews Like a Pro
27th July 2015 • Hit Publish • Rainmaker.FM
00:00:00 00:29:42

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This week I invited expert podcaster Jon Nastor to the Hit Publish house where he shares his top tips for growing an engaged audience through podcast interviews.

Get ready to access the cheats, tips and hacks that will give you some serious interviewer skills (and boost your business credibility) …

Jon Nastor hosts Hack the Entrepreneur where he s managed to get more than 100 entrepreneurs to reveal the habits, philosophies and actions that have helped in their success. By publishing show after show, Jon combatted nerves and honed his interview skills but more importantly, saw how podcast interviews could build a seriously engaged audience.

His podcasting expertise is in high-demand and he now hosts a show with Jerod Morris called The Showrunner, (also on Rainmaker.FM) which is a podcast about podcasting. What s more, Jerod and Jon have developed a system you can use to create a highly-engaged podcast for your own business (more exciting details about that at the end of the episode).

Tune in to this episode to find out:

  • How interviews can help increase your content output (and lighten your content creation load)
  • Who will make the perfect guest for your audience — it might not be who you think
  • 3 rules for getting sought-after experts to say yes to your interview
  • What you need to do before any interview to get the best performance from your guest

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

How to Conduct Podcast Interviews Like a Pro

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at

Amy Harrison Hello. This is Amy Harrison, and you’re listening to Hit Publish, where I cover simple ways to get better results with your online business.

Hm. Who’s that at the door? Oh, yes. This week, we have a special guest. Come on in. I’ve invited expert podcaster Jon Nastor to come around to the Hit Publish house and share his top tips for conducting interviews, because interviews can help you grow a really engaged audience for your business. That’s what we’re going to look at today.

I want to thank you for downloading this podcast, and I want to thank Rainmaker.FM for hosting it. Are you ready to access the cheats, the tips, the hacks that will give you some serious interview skills and boost your business credibility? Let’s Hit Publish.

Now, while Jon fills the kettle, brews up the tea … No, not in there, Jon. The teaspoons are in the top drawer.

While Jon navigates the kitchen, I want to give a quick shout-out to a comment on a previous Hit Publish show. A couple of weeks back, we looked at how storytelling techniques from Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney could help build anticipation for your product or service. Now Francisco, who I think is a designer, wrote in to say how these techniques really made him think about Apple’s marketing: how they manage to build a story about the problem, the results people want, and then tell the story that builds great suspense for the release of their latest development.

I thought this was great. Apple is a cracking example for marketing done well and stories told really well. If you haven’t heard that episode of Hit Publish, you can go to HitPublish.FM. It’s called The Overlooked Details That Can Get Your Business Noticed. Don’t forget to leave your own comments or questions.

I received one last week from Tony about getting people engaged with your digital marketing, and that is going to form the basis of next week’s show. Thank you to Francisco for sending in your comment, and thanks to everyone else who has been commenting on the Hit Publish shows. I would love to hear from you.

Now, it’s time for the word of the week. This week’s word, which I will hide somewhere in the podcast, is larrikin, which means disorderly or rowdy. Keep your ears open for this one, because you won’t find it in the transcript. It’s hidden only for you, my keen listener.

How Interviews Can Help Increase Your Content Output (and Lighten Your Content Creation Load)

Amy Harrison Today’s episode’s all about conducting interviews — no, conducting great interviews — to build an engaged audience. It comes from a Dear Amy submission by Hit Publish listener Julie.

Dear Amy,

After listening to the Hit Publish episode about getting the best audio for podcasts, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a podcast for my design business. I love talking to people. I’m quite chatty, and I’d love to interview design experts, but don’t know where to start. I don’t want to make a fool out of myself. Do you have any tips for getting started?

Yours talkatively, Julie.

Well Julie, I haven’t done a huge amount of interviews in my life, but I know a man who has. Here he is, with the tea, and look at that. We’ve even got some digestive biscuits on a plate. Looks like we are ready to begin. Let’s have some exciting interview music.

Jon Nastor hosts Hack the Entrepreneur. He’s interviewed over 100 entrepreneurs and gets them to share their biggest hacks and tips that have helped them in their success. Jon also hosts a podcast about podcasting with the lovely Jerod Morris called The Showrunner. I’ll link to all of these in the show notes.

What’s more, Jon and Jerod have developed a system for creating your own podcast for your business. If this idea of podcasting is whetting your appetite, Jon has some more details about it at the end of this episode. The first thing I wanted to know is, why on earth would a business want to use interviews as part of their content marketing mix?

Jon Nastor: Using interviews is great, because one main reason is that you get other people or experts, if you can get ahold of them, to create the content for you. You don’t have to worry about creating a full piece.

Amy Harrison It seems that, in addition to putting out valuable content and choosing great experts to interview, it can also ease the burden for creating content. As someone who has struggled with consistent publishing in the past, I am all for this. Now I want to know, with billions of people in the world, how do you know who to choose to interview?

Who Will Make the Perfect Guest for Your Audience It Might Not Be Who You Think

Jon Nastor: This is all about knowing your audience now, where you really, really have to. I’m going to go back to the podcasting version of it. For podcasting, you should be always speaking to one person, not to a massive audience, because one person has headphones on or is in their car or on the train, on their way to work, listening to you. You have to know that person.

You have to know what that person needs, and then you have to produce a piece of content that either is going to entertain, educate, or inspire them in some way. If you can somehow create a mix of those, then you’re totally golden. A mistake that lots of people make — I made this mistake myself — was trying to get the most popular people in your market first. I mean, They ve got a Twitter following of 500,000 people. My podcast will go through the roof as soon as they come on. It doesn’t happen. That’s not the way it works.

Amy Harrison What?!

Jon Nastor: They might come on your show, but it doesn’t change it. I’ve interviewed some amazing people. All of them are amazing, but I mean amazing in the platform or the audience they have. And then I’ve interviewed some people that I thought were really, really brilliant people, but they have like 300 Twitter followers. Those shows are so much more popular, it seems, within iTunes, within my audience. It’s really interesting. That allows you then to understand your audience more and then to be able to provide that value.

I think that the key is to really know your audience and then provide that value to them in a way that is going to take them on this transformation and either inspire them, educate them, or just entertain them. You need to know that. If you don’t know that, then it’s going to be really hard to find the right person. But there is no correct, like, “You need this person with this amount of audience or has written three books or has a …” You know what I mean? There’s no metric, otherwise, except for your audience and what will take them through that transformation you’re trying to help take them through.

Amy Harrison Jon says that there is no definitive metric for choosing a guest, so don’t be swayed by the number of social media followers they have, for example. The key is choosing someone who’s going to have information that your audience loves. What’s more, sometimes it’s the little-known guests that get the biggest audience engagement, so head out there online. Find some people that will excite you, your listeners, or your readers.

Okay? You found someone? You think they’ll be perfect? What can you now do to encourage people to say yes to your interview?

3 Rules for Getting Sought-After Experts to Say Yes to Your Interview

Jon Nastor: The biggest tip for trying to get people to say yes is that you have to get over yourself and the fact that people are going to say no to you. It’s basics of life, right? People will say no to you when you ask them things. That’s it. You have to know that, If I don’t ask them, and then they have automatically basically said no, because they’re not coming on, so I might as well ask.

There’s ways to ask so that you can increase the likelihood of that. Keep your emails short. Keep your emails specific. Tell specifically why, in one sentence or two sentences, what they produce would be beneficial to your audience. And quickly, in one sentence, explain your audience to them so that they can tell, “Wow, this person actually has researched me. This person doesn’t just want me for my audience. They actually know that I will fit the show.”

Keep it short is just such a big thing. Typically, even people who don’t have massive audiences are still busy. We still get lots of emails, and it’s way easier for somebody to ignore your request if it’s too darn long.

Just keep it to the point, and keep it all based on the value they can provide. Then also, what can you provide for them? Who is your audience? How big is your audience? Even if your audience is 200 people, most people, if you could offer them a room with 200 of your audience, 200 people in there, and you ask them, and it was easy for them to digitally speak to you via Skype, speak to your audience, they totally would. Don’t underestimate the power of your audience, even if your audience isn’t massive at this point.

Really show that to your guest. Show that you understand them. Show that you know who they are, and you’ve done some research, and then show what value you can provide back to that guest for being on your show. That’s just what people need, and then they will be like, “Oh, wow, this will help my business in this way. Plus it will help them as well,” but it can’t be all about you. You have to switch that, but you have to do this in a quick, effective way.

There’s endless blog posts out there or YouTube videos where you can just type into Google, how to reach out to people, basically, and how to reach out to people above you. It’ll give you great tips, and really, the best one is to show that value and then keep it very short if you can.

There’s nothing worse than this email I get that’s three pages long. It’s like, “Sorry, this could be the coolest show ever to be on, but I’m too busy to read all of this.” It’s the elevator pitch, I guess. If you can’t quickly tell me about your show and about what value I can provide and what value you can provide, then it’s probably not going to be a good fit for me.

Amy Harrison While it would be lovely to have a guarantee that everyone will say yes, unfortunately that won’t happen. But there are things that you can do to minimize rejection.

One, respect the time of your guest. Make your requests short and to the point, particularly if you’re emailing them.

Two, show that you’ve researched them. Show that you know something about them, their business, or their industry.

Three, explain why there would be value for them to appear in front of your audience. Let them know what they’ll get out of it.

Phew. Look at you now. You’ve found someone. You’ve got them on board. Now it’s time to ask the questions. How does Jon, after doing hundreds of shows, know what to ask his guests?

Jon Nastor: I definitely outline my questions. I have a sheet in front of me that has five times as many questions as I need, and then they follow themes of what I might want to cover. Again, you have to know your audience completely and what it is they’re looking for and what can help them. Then, you have to be controlling, somewhat, of the conversation, but you also have to let the conversation flow where it’s going to naturally flow.

I found the best way was, when I was starting, especially, because I was nervous interviewing people — I had never done this before — I kept themes on this sheet in front of me on my desktop. If all of a sudden they started talking about habits, then it’s like, “Okay, now I got five questions on habits. The way I’ve now naturally learned to do it is, I have that question. All of a sudden, it goes to habits. I ask them a question about habits. They give me a great answer, and as they’re giving me the answer, I’m jotting down stuff they’re saying so that I can repeat it back if I need to.

Then I do one follow-up question on every response that they give. Some people go further. If you’re like Tim Ferriss, and you have a four-hour podcast, you can take it down that wormhole.

That’s just not my style. My shows are all 30 minutes or less. I’m trying to keep it concise for my audience, because I know that’s what they want. They’re on their commute to work, and they only have so much time. I like to follow up, because without a follow-up, it’s hard to really get the guest engaged. I do that one follow-up, but then after that, I decide where I want to take it.

Having the themes, it’s like, “Okay, now I want to talk work or projects. ” Then I can just move to the projects section and know how the conversation has gone, and then I can pick one of those questions and go from it. Each guest will be different.

This is something that, if you’re sitting down for your first interview, it sounds like I’m doing a whole ton of stuff — I am, sort of, but I’ve also interviewed 125 people in the last eight months at this point. I’ve done it a few times now, but a year ago, I had never interviewed anybody in my life. It’s one of those things that does take practice, but there are ways and there are things you can do to help yourself to set yourself up to make it easier and make it flow.

Again, just think about your audience. If your audience has an hour to listen, and they love to listen to you for an hour, then by all means, you can take that conversation that far. Maybe you can do two or three follow-up questions, but you have to know your audience.

This isn’t for you. This isn’t for your guest. This is strictly being creative. This conversation is for your audience.

Amy Harrison Jon recommends that you have a structure, but keep it flexible so that you don’t stifle the conversation with a rigid format. Respect your audience preferences, so that the content matches the time they have to listen to the podcast and reflects the depth of knowledge that they want to gain.

Developing a structure helps make sure your interview doesn’t become off track. Jon also shared with me a cheat of his for keeping things flowing and making sure people stay engaged. I love cheats.

Jon Nastor: I have now created a PDF that I have printed out each time. It’s got different sections where I can write things down as the conversation’s going. I fully cheat. I completely cheat.

I have the person’s name in bold, so that I can say their first name back to them as we’re talking, because I also know on Skype,...