Maybe you’ve just secured a new radio slot (with some help from my previous blog, How To Get into Radio Broadcasting), or you’ve been mulling over a collaborative podcast idea, or you’ve started streaming live on Instagram or Twitch? If this is you (or in your future), It’s probably time to think about conducting an interview on your platform. This could be with a musician, a fellow radio host, or even just a friend of yours. It is always worth bringing someone else in on your show to diversify the content, create some funny moments and to build up your experience as a host. It’s also a lot of fun! So how do you go about it?
Choosing a guest
The first step in carrying out an interview is to identify a person or a group who you want to interview. If you are going to interview an artist or musician, it will give you such an advantage if you love the artist’s music. Look through what you have been listening to lately, are there any smaller or up and coming artists who you’d love to speak to? Or maybe you have a friend who makes music or art that you think would make a great guest on your show. Both of these methods will result in a natural interview because you share a passion with your interviewee for their music. If you want to interview an artist don’t be shy about simply just messaging them on social media! Up and coming artists might have their managers’ email addresses in their social media bios as well, so you can shoot them an email introducing yourself and why you would like to interview their artist. It is good to give a time frame to an artist as to how long you would like to interview them as artist’s schedules can be incredibly busy. If they mention how swamped they are, remember you can always suggest a recorded zoom call that you can then play out later on your radio show or podcast.
Building your interview
Once you’ve organised an interview, it’s time to get ready for it. Think about the amount of time you have with your guest so you know how much or little you want to have prepared. The best way I have found to approach an interview in the past is to brainstorm topics and questions that I know I want to touch on, and create a list from there. Is there a topic, new album or pop culture moment you want to dive in with them? Look for some inspiration from podcast or radio hosts that you love. What kind of guests do they have on their show and what kind of questions do they ask? Doing some research is always good preparation – looking at your guests’ social media, other interviews they may have done, and any content or music they’ve created. I even sometimes use a good old fashioned primary school style mind map to visually set out what I want to cover in an interview! There may be a lot or little that comes from this brainstorming stage, but in case there is a lull in conversation, it’s always good to have a few questions or topics you can fall back on. A musician or their management may ask at this stage for a list of questions that you are going to ask in your interview as well.
On the day preparation
So now you’ve done the legwork of organisation and admin work, I would really encourage you to enjoy the interview now. Interviews can be incredible nerve-racking especially if they are live, so I want to remind you here of the fundamentals. Make sure you’ve had enough food and sleep, and maybe take some water with you to the interview to stay hydrated. Whether a 10 minute or 2 hour interview, being under pressure and focusing on your guest can be tiring. Equally when your guest arrives or joins the call, before you hit record, make sure your guest is happy and comfortable. You can introduce yourself if you have never met before and ask them how their day is going. This will give a nice personal touch to your conversation when the mics are on. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, press record, remember the preparation you did, and enjoy making creative content!
I want to expand here on the pressure of interviewing, and how I have found best to cope when you’re on the spot. Following the steps above so you have prepped questions is a great way to sate anxiety, and remember to fall back on these in the interview. You can also take your time – you are only human and if you need to take a breath and look at your phone or laptop to remind yourself of a question, your guest and your audience are not going to mind. It will really help to remember your preparation but place your focus on your guests responses.This is so important. This will allow you to adlib questions, stay present, and to generally follow the natural flow of the conversation. Remember, it’s your guest’s responses listeners are tuning in to hear. If in doubt, you can always ask ‘would you mind expanding on that?’ with a smile and some enthusiasm.
Remember this is just a guide, and you could do all of these steps as I’ve laid them out, but things can still go wrong. It is human to make mistakes, it is almost inevitable that this will happen. So the main takeaway from this is to just enjoy interviewing! If you are interviewing a guest that you are really excited about, this will come through in your attitude towards them and your listeners will pick up on it. So try your very best to not let the nerves get to you, and just have fun!
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