What is it about some interviews that makes them stand out…?
Sometimes it’s the story, the delivery of it by the interviewee or their personality, the introduction by the host, timing of the moment, presentation style, background info, production approach, editing techniques, strategically-placed background music, crowd response or the use of silence and ambient sounds.
What’s the most memorable interview you ever read, listened to or watched – and what moments come to mind when you reflect on it for a sec?
Let’s get to it – the interview
These days, interviews can be conducted in many formats. In today’s post we’re talking • by phone (on or offline) • via e-mail •in person for your:
Who would you like to feature – and why?
The ‘why’ is significant, probably just as much as the who (or whom.)
How do you feel about the possibility? Your interest is a gauge that indicates how proactive you’ll be about pitching the idea to them, then your level of preparation relates to how committed you are about the process. That doesn’t mean bouncing up and down with joy during the day then doing research and writing questions all through the night. But…
a healthy degree of enthusiasm and focused planning make a good duo for a productive interview.
So, what’s the plan for your introduction? Be clear for yourself, your guest and readers/listeners/viewers. This is really important. If your invitation is low-key, they’re likely to agree on the spot (while fighting a yawn) then drop-out at the very last minute without a trace. Too much hype and some may feel intimidated by the offer, and doubt their ‘readiness.’
How you pitch the project the interview is for
What it’s about
Whom the message is for
Why it matters to your guest
When it needs to be completed
Here are 5 Tips & 3 Formats For Interviewing People For Your Blog, Podcast or Magazine
- draft (and send) an official invitation by e-mail or however is the most reliable when it comes to connecting with your contact/s. If it’s a face-to-face invitation, be sure to follow it up (and confirm the logistics) in advance so the details of the day aren’t left only to memory. You may need to tweak the invitation to suit the person you’re gonna interview. For example, if you have a specific name in the intro or a particular career field mentioned. Do a quick check or make a digital note about the words or lines to edit and customize with each interview.
- add confirmed interviews to your paper planner & digital calendar and add invitees (on Google calendar or i-Cal) so your upcoming guest/interviewee has a simultaneous reminder.
- Be clear about the focus area and ‘springboard topic‘ of the interview. This really should be number one on the list but I think we’ll be alright. Springboard topic; two words that just sprang to mind when I think about that introductory conversation, whether online, on the phone, or in person. Remember (and articulate) why you’d like to feature them or their business. Give a timeline, follow-through on it, and if any time tweaks, keep the communication current, respect (and genuinely acknowledge) their ongoing effort then set and stand by a new date. If we don’t take interviews seriously, why would our guests? Set the pace, and a day/time.
- Momentum matters. Ever heard of ‘the boy who cried wolf?’ If not, look it up when you have a moment. Don’t be one minute ‘ready to roll’ and the next moment, chuggin’ like a slug on the project. Follow-through. Write the article, produce, edit and upload the podcast episode and get that publication up an’ crankin’. Most people have a lot going on. Being considerate is still a thing. If we zone in and out as the wind blows, people will have a tough time coming on board, making recommendations or feeling confident the project is actually coming to fruition.
- Intros and show notes – after the interview, there’s usually a time of reflection before reviewing handwritten notes you made, voice notes sent through Whatsapp/Facebook or video calls recorded on Skype/Zoom. Your home office may look like a detective agency at this point. It’s about studying and listening all over again, but with a fresh perspective now you’ve communicated firsthand for a chunk of time with the guest whether by phone, through e-mail or video call. Now you’ve learned that much more about your guest or their business, what is a fitting introduction (blog/mag) and how would you summarize the feature (podcast show notes.)
- be pleasant, polite, patient, proactive – and you. Tip #6 is a little reminder to go beyond and write an article or produce a podcast episode that introduces and represents your guest graciously, without embellishments.
I recently had to do interviews in these three formats and am getting ready to do another on-site, in-person one for an upcoming assignment. (That’ll be in a new Freelancer WorkWeek video and it’s an outdoor adventure, so remember to click ‘follow’ on the right side of this blog page for firsthand updates or new posts, videos and events.)
- do your research on the guest/their business/career field/their milestones
- write/type out your questions beforehand
- check your tech: WiFi connection, phone/laptop battery life
- be on time or at the very least send a mssg (in advance) if any time edits come up
- keep a notebook and (working) pen/pencil nearby
for interviews in different formats:
On the phone
- send your questions at least two weeks in advance (of your blog post pub date.) This timeline gives your guest a chance to confirm they’ve received the e-mail along with some breathing room to process for a bit then get right to it. It’s not too much of a gap so the project slips their mind or loses significance on their schedule. Either way, you’re gonna send 1-2 light reminders to usher them along and check if they have any questions or are getting through with writing.
- You’ve already added the event (blog-posting date) on Google Calendar (and in your Content Planner/Editorial Calendar) and digitally invited them to it so that’s another automatic reminder. If you sense or they express a booked calendar or tough season, no worries – you can offer to run through the questions over the phone in ten minutes so they just answer conversation-style while you jot down notes and transcribe quotes.
If you’ll be doing several interviews, a template of the invitation you send to your guest comes in handy. Even when you ask someone to be a featured guest on your blog, podcast or in your magazine, follow that convo up with a digital document. It’ll ease your current workflow and future hiring protocol.
- this style doesn’t suit everyone; just my opinion. Because podcasts aren’t visual, the voice is essential as it’s standing on its own. If your episode content is pre-recorded and sent to you to be edited and uploaded, the conversation element isn’t there, but that’s not so much of a problem in and of itself. But, if the featured guest isn’t accustomed to recording into a phone or making presentations, the vibe can be a bit blasé or the whole thing can feel staged – not fluent and interactive. For guests that have the gift of being speakers (whether they know it yet or not) an edited and digitally-enhanced voice note works fabulously fine.
- Ask your upcoming guests to please record in the quietest space they can find (not a bathroom; with that echo, they’ll sound like they’re speaking through a can or worse yet – like Count Dracula from Sesame Street – he still around?)
- The entrepreneurial e-mag I assist an organization in Barbados with involves a lot of research, whether that looks like statistics with references or quote collection and data verification. Along with writing five articles for the upcoming issue, there were interviews to do with two business owners; one locally-based (an hr-long recording that I transcribed) and one via a Whatsapp conversation which involved a lot of speed notetaking (legible pencil scribbles really.) Both took a lot of time to review, decipher, quote-catch, produce and compress into 1,000-word articles.
Please note: all of these documentation formats to conduct your interviews involve work: preparation, implementation, editing and construction, but if you enjoy it and the guest interviews you’re about to do are on your priority list, it’s all a part of the process and you’ll find a formula that works well for you. That said, you can delegate to your team or assistant if you have one in motion or outsource the tasks you find tedious.
Interviews take time. Schedule them well, and set a rhythm that works. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming even if it feels like it at first or at points during the process. Plan, prepare, pitch and tend to them one by one, each as important as the other.
On that note, transcription of audio recordings and videos is one of the services I tend to for corporate clients, so if that’s an area I can help you and your business with, come on over to this page right here select the service that matches your virtual request and let’s get started.
5 Tips & 3 Formats For Interviewing People For Your Blog, Podcast or Magazine was first published on ‘Joy within’ blog.