Podcasting Made Easy, Part III : The Interview

5 Jul

For one of my first podcasts, I called upon Phil Boyte who lived up in the foothills two hours from where I live.  He agreed and I offered to drive up and meet him.  We sat and spoke for a bit, and it became clear I did not have a vision of what I wanted the subjects of my podcasts to be.  I had ideas, and most of the time I left that idea choosing process up to the person I was interviewing.  However, with that much choice, my subjects would often get lost and be unsure of a topic.  I lost a few interviews that way, especially from people who are not used to be recorded.  Phil and I eventually did a great podcast on ideas you can use for the first days/week of school – but it took a little time to get there.  I began to learn – thanks to my conversation with Phil – that I needed to get dialed in to the content I was looking for in the podcast.

My interview style is very conversational, initially I would go with a subject, talk for a while, ask questions and let the person talk.  This turned in to interviews that would last an hour or so – a lot to edit for a ten minute podcast.  I started to create notes, topic guidelines.  I would contact my subject a week before and again the night before with my outline.  This way, my subject knew what I was going to ask, there were no suprises, and they knew what to prepare for during the interview.  The process became a lot smoother and the interviews got better.

Another side of the interview process I noticed was how people spoke.  If people know what they are going to see and feel comfortable they will answer directly and clearly.  However, if they have to think about an answer, that’s where the sounds come in that make an interview sound not so good.  Sounds like a “tsk” made when clicking your tounge behind your theeth before speaking, “um,” “uh” or “ah.”  I used to go through and edit out these noises as, for me, they became very distracting.  I wanted my podcasts to flow, create a good rythm and convey a good message.  Too many “um” pauses killed that flow for me so I removed them.

The last piece of advice I would have is to speak slowly and clearly.  A good tech friend of mine, Chris Garcia, noticed that I was speaking very quickly during interviews or when I was doing a solo show.  I was not doing it on purpose, I was trying to get through all of my material efficiently.  I began to notice that I do this when teaching or presenting, I speak quicly because I am so excited to share. So, I began to pace myself, slow down a bit, and take my time with the content.

Good interviewing skills go a long way to getting a great story or the sharing of a great idea.  Mine evolved over about twenty episodes, now I feel like I can sit down, write out some good notes, or even do a little impromptu with my subjects as I am better able to react to the situation.  This is a great skill to practice and develop before your next podcast.

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