You are thrilled to be interviewing an industry expert live on your podcast. Your guest will undoubtedly help boost your downloads, grow your audience, and establish your credibility. There’s just one problem: You are 13 minutes into a 30-minute segment, and you don’t know how to fill the remaining time. You thought the conversation would flow effortlessly, but instead, your guest is looking at you, waiting for you to guide them in the discussion, and you’re drawing a blank—and starting to panic.
Avoid this common on-air interview issue by following these five best practices for leading engaging, live on-air interviews for your podcast or radio show.
Communicate the Format to Your Guest
Sometimes, dead air can come as a result of there being a misunderstanding between the host and the guest about the show’s format. Communicate to your guest, in advance, the length of time you will be on-air and if you are broadcasting live or pre-recording their segment. Also, share if you want to structure your time as a formal question and answer session that includes queries from listeners, or if you intend to keep the dialogue more conversational between the two of you. If there are no surprises for your guest, he or she may be less likely to run out of feedback.
Prep Your Guest
Avoid surprising your guest with topics that he or she may not be comfortable sharing. At least a few days before you go on air, send him or her a summary of some of the topics you want to cover and some of the questions you will want to ask so that they are prepared to share openly.
Create a list of questions that you plan to ask your guest and ensure you have at least double the number that you think you may need. Some guests will answer each question with stories, anecdotes, and brilliant insights, and at other times, your guests may respond with more succinct responses. By overpreparing, you will protect yourself from being without another question or discussion topic.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions are those that your guest can not simply answer with yes or no. These types of responses certainly won’t fill up a 30-minute slot. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow your guest to share lessons learned, tell stories, and express feelings. Open-ended questions typically start with words like, “How,” or “Describe.” For example, you could ask, “How do you see this industry changing in ten years?” or “Describe a time in your career when you had to pivot and make a strategic change.”
Do Your Homework
Research your guest thoroughly. Learn as much as you can about their background, platform, education, work experience, and everything else that may be relevant to the interview. Knowing insightful details about your guest will help you formulate follow-up questions. For example, if your guest shares an impactful life lesson, you can ask how he or she applied the strategy to their time working for a specific company.
The Final Cut
Remember that while your guest will want to use the opportunity of speaking on your podcast or show to help showcase their brand or platform, ultimately, the success of the show is your responsibility. Overprepare, do your homework and ensure your guest is prepared to take part in meaningful dialog. After you conduct a few successful interviews live, you will develop the confidence to keep calm and carry on, no matter what happens on air.