April 17, 2021•563 words
Preparing for your next interview
In my previous article, I wrote about how to find new guests for your show and how you can reach out to them.
Now, let's focus on how you can best prepare for your conversation.
Doing a solid interview preparation enables two things:
1) You know exactly what you're looking for when discussing with your guest. You've got your direction clearly defined.
2) Freed of the hassle of thinking what to ask next ; you can listen to the speaker and give them your undivided attention.
How to prepare?
The Prep. Document
In my first episodes of Post Mortem I did not use any preparation document (or prep. doc. for short). For sure, I did some research on the guest, had some notes and a few questions. The problem with this first approach is that I often missed to cover parts of the story, If you don't have a clear goal guiding your interview, you easily get sidetracked.
In the Gimlet Podcast How to Get Good Tape, they advocate for having a "Prep. Document". So what's a prep document and how can it help ?
A Prep. Document is a roadmap for your interview.
- At the top of it there's the "North Star" ⭐️ . It's the idea that drives the whole discussion, that one thing you want to get out of the interview and you won't leave until you have it. Write it as a short guiding principle that will help you keep your interview focused.
- Then you have an outline; a few chapters with bullet points for the question you want to ask. Note: use open-ended questions and aim for feelings or stories, they're more likely to get engaging responses compared to closed yes/no questions.
Here's the prep document I personally use for my episodes of the Post Mortem Podcast:
North Star 🌟
💡 The thing you don't want to leave the interview without.
A 1 ~ 2 line statement with the goal of the interview
💡 A list of elements and points I want to discuss with the interviewee. Split in chapters
It's best to use open ended question
Make sure to identify the question you want an answer to beforehand.
If it's all you're asking, it's all you'll get
Aim towards; either feelings or stories at each question
Useful links, blogs, videos, etc. to help understand the issue discussed in the episode
I have an additional Resources section to keep track of documents I found during the interview prep - blogs, research papers, videos, etc. - that could be interesting to share with the audience through the show notes. I can't emphasize enough how useful it is to have a reference management tool to help you with this task, but that will be the subject of another article ;)
Wrapping it up
Having a prep document gives you confidence in running the interview. Most importantly, since you don't have to constantly think about what to ask next, you can truly listen to what your guest have to stay.