Two Templates That Make Running an Interview Podcast Easier
3 min read

Two Templates That Make Running an Interview Podcast Easier

Two Templates That Make Running an Interview Podcast Easier
Photo by Michal Czyz / Unsplash

It's pandemic summer. I'm isolated, I'm bored. I decide to leverage my broadcast experience (former host of AM radio show Classic Country and also reading the weather & eulogies, coming to you live from the internet) and start a podcast: Production Ready.

I want it to be conversational and fun. It's counterintuitive, but adding a bit of structure to the process improved the flow.  Constraints breed creativity and can also breed conversation.

No structure is scary. You could find yourself caught speechless (the cardinal sin of radio is dead air), and your guests may act guarded and anxious if they don't know what's coming.

To alleviate this, I used two templates:

  1. A pre-interview email, to help us both prepare and set expectations.
  2. An interview question bank. I tweaked it for each episode. I didn't read each question verbatim, instead, I used it as a loose guide to help me get started, and pick up the interview if I got stuck.

A friend asked me how I conducted interviews, so I'm sharing these for him and for anyone else who might find them useful.

The Pre-Interview Email To Put Your Guest At Ease

(I fill in part of these if I had a previous conversation with the guest.  Make it as easy as possible for the guest!

Hey {{future guest}}!
Excited to have you on the show! Here's a Calendly link to book a time:
{{ calendly link }}
If none of those work, let me know what does and we can set something up.

0. Talking points

1. Introduce Yourself! - Please provide a brief 2-3 sentence intro I can use to introduce you.

2. Links - What links would like me to include in the show notes? For example your site, your company's site, and your socials.

3. Out-of-bounds - Is there any topic that's off-limits and you'd like me to avoid?

4. Promotion - Is there anything you'd like me to highlight? If so, let me know here and I'll do my best to organically include it in our talks as well as include links in the show notes.

5. Recommendations?  - Do you know anyone else I should consider talking to? If so, do any topics spring to mind when you think of this person?

Recording Day Notes:
Profanity is allowed, but don't go crazy with it.
Recording won't start until I tell you that it has. Talk before and after the episode is off the record.
Episodes tend to run around 30ish minutes which requires about 35-40 minutes of raw audio, but it's not a hard deadline.
This podcast is more 'conversations with internet friends' and less business venture. I don't take it seriously and neither should you. Have fun with it!

An Interview Question Bank To Prevent Getting Stuck

I aim to keep the conversation flowing. If you listen to the episodes, you can hear that I achieved this 100% of the time, and definitely didn't cut any stumbles or awkward pauses using Descript.

Replace ____ below with the episode topic or guest's area of expertise.

How would your parents describe what you do?
Why is ____ so important?
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered with ___
What are some of the challenges you see people encounter with ___
What are some of the biggest surprises you’ve encountered with ___
What’s next for you?
Have you read any books, articles, or watched any videos that changed how you view ___ ?
If you could give one piece of advice to the listener, what would you tell them?
Follow up questions:
When the guest is excited about what they're talking about, you've found a thread worth pulling. Here are some ideas to help you dig deeper.
‘Tell me more about that.’
‘Why do you think that is?’
‘Do you think that's because [purposefully wrong opinon]’ (sometimes playing dumb is a good technique to get people to talk. Try it on the internet!)

Now, go forth & cast 🧙‍♂

As of this writing, my podcast is on ice. While I loved doing it I don't have the time to do it well. This means there is a gap in the market for... whatever it was I was doing. Hopefully, these templates can give you a good starting point. If you end up using these, please let me know, I'd love to hear how it turns out.

Want to read more about the show? Check out the season 1 post mortem, where I break down what I learned about writing, community, and getting used to the sound of your own voice.