Have you noticed that the number of podcasts seems to have exploded? I can’t turn around without someone recommending a new podcast. I’ve also noticed that the quality of podcasts has greatly improved. We may be entering the golden age of podcasting. As a longtime fan of NPR, I welcome our new podcasting overlords.
There’s a good reason why so many business owners and professionals (myself included) are starting podcasts, listening to podcasts, and clamoring to be guests on podcasts. But of course, if you start a podcast, you need a content strategy.
The interview style of content creation can be really engaging and it’s a super easy way to get a TON of content done quickly (Psst: it’s also an easy way to write a valuable book really quickly).
Plus, there are credibility benefits. Learn to master the interview style of content creation and others will start to see you as the expert they can’t ignore. All you have to do is come up with some questions, find experts willing to answer them, and watch the magic unfold.
Borrow from Your Favorite Podcast Hosts
Whether you’re interested in starting a podcast or wanting to use interviews for other creative content inspiration, the fastest way to gain insight is by studying your favorite podcast hosts.
Whenever you find yourself with extra time on your hands—or looking for some productive procrastination—you could do worse than listening to a podcast.
My list of current favorites:
- What Works with Tara McMullin – A wide variety of entrepreneurs and professionals talk about what has worked for them in their businesses. I love Tara’s unique blend of listening and asking thought-provoking questions.
- Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us – The depth and breadth of each conversation is hard to capture in words. You’ll feel like a fly on the wall as Brene Brown and her guests get vulnerable, really vulnerable. The episode on Burnout touched my soul.
- Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? – Listen in as couples learn, explore, and experience together during a session with Psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author, Esther Perel. You’ll learn more about yourself and your own relationships than you might imagine.
- Terry Gross’s Fresh Air – Okay, this one isn’t technically a podcast, but it is a long-time favorite that just keeps getting better and better. I can’t think of a better conversationalist than Terry Gross.
A funny thing happens when you listen to a favorite podcast regularly, these hosts become a lot like family. You can learn so much about both the host and her guests when the conversation is artfully done.
One particularly memorable Brene Brown interview was with Jay and Mark Duplass. This film industry duo are brothers and best friends. Of course, they have a natural rapport, but beyond that they’re both extraordinarily reflective about their relationship and themselves as individuals. Brene Brown does an amazing job drawing them out. She interviews them like she’s interviewing old friends. Their conversation was genuine and heartfelt. And they talked about paradoxes, which is one of my favorite topics to think about.
Interviews can be more intimate than any other type of content and for this reason, when they’re done well, they’re like beautiful works of art.
What does an artful interview look like?
Great interviews are great conversations. I’ve been interviewing entrepreneurs for my own series I’m calling the Own Your Expertise interview series. As an interviewer, my goal is to host a conversation that makes both the interviewee and my audience feel as if they are participating alongside of me.
The key to inviting your audience in is to have the goal of discovery in mind. Come to the interview, hat-in-hand, ready and willing to listen, without foisting your own narrative on your guest. Avoid asking leading questions or trying to get the guest to agree with you. Instead, think of yourself as actively curating an audio exhibit for your listeners.
Let’s talk interview questions:
Below is a list of my top 5 interview questions for experts. I get best results when I send questions ahead of the live interview and then give my thought leaders the opportunity to choose 2-3 questions to answer during the recording or LinkedIn LIVE session.
1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20-year-old self?
This question leads your interviewee to go deep into self-reflection. The advice we would give our younger selves is time tested and likely to reflect core values. I often like to ask this question at the end of an interview.
2. What has surprised you most about your journey to becoming the expert you are today?
This is one way to uncover those speed bumps and messy moments that are part of every successful journey. If your audience is on the same journey as your guest, but a mile or two behind, then this can help them prepare for what might be coming.
3. What has helped you the most in learning to own your expertise?
A crucial part of becoming an expert is learning from mistakes and learning by watching others. This question gives you a window into what you and your audience should be learning.
4. What is one thing that people often misunderstand about your industry?
Experts are where they are because they figured out certain things about their industries that others didn’t figure out. Get them talking about these invaluable secrets and you’ll have a similar opportunity to reshape your own industry.
5. What are you working on that makes you most excited?
This gives your expert a chance to talk about what’s on the horizon for them. Not only can you learn about how they conceive of new ideas and how they organically follow the breadcrumbs that lead them down the path, you give your guest a chance to direct the conversation toward what they’re passionate about. Get them to speak from the heart and you’ll discover new ground to cover.
When interviewing other experts, picture yourself as a miner. You are digging down to find gold. The gold could be your next big idea or it could be the catalyst for audience engagement that takes your brand to the next level. Either way, interview style content creation is the fastest way to take your thought leadership to the next level.
Do you know someone who would be a great guest for my Own Your Expertise interview series? Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your suggestions and feel free to suggest yourself! You get a virtual fist bump for self-promotion!
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