The interview is now ubiquitous in Podcasting thanks to a number of really high profile shows that broadcast every episode in this format. In some ways I can see why – the pros are very obvious, and quite big, but I find the cons to be pretty huge too. But we’ll find out more on that below.
To explain the format, if it’s not obvious: you find an expert in an area which is of interest to your audience, you ask them some relevant questions and you broadcast their insights to your audience. It means you can teach your audience about subjects which you’re possibly not so confident about, and arguably planning is cut down because you don’t have to script content, etc. But I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Let’s have a look at the detail.
- Succinct, regular questions – The host will ask the same questions on each episode to draw particular lessons from the interviewee relevant to the audience.
- Conversation – The host and the interviewee will have a general topic in mind but actually just chat informally for 30 minutes to an hour, or more, about that topic
- Mixed-Format – The first half of the interview will be a free-form conversation, before moving to set questions which are asked of everyone.
- Benefit from another’s expert knowledge in an area.
- Planning of content itself is very low – you simply sketch out some leading questions
- Big marketing benefits – the guest will most likely promote the show to their audience, gaining you visibility and listeners.
- Big networking benefits – you’ll have an excuse to speak to experts in your field, and get to know them.
- Huge learning benefits – you can can experts in tiny niches and learn all of their secrets!
- Up-front planning can be time-consuming; Negotiating the interview, including times, questions, communication method, etc.
- Without very time-consuming editing, you don’t have much control over the content. The guest may be rambling, unfocussed, or conveying a message you don’t agree with.
- David Siteman Garland of Rise to the Top was one of the first high profile guys doing regular interviews.
- Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs Journey has been interviewing entrepreneurs since the middle of last decade on his podcast.
I think the interview is a little over-used these days, and people flock to it because it’s seen as an easy way to source good content. But, without good interviewing skills or a lot of editing, many interviews are unfocussed, rambling and without clear takeaways. People seem to forget about the time spent organising interviews as well, which, in my experience, is quite time consuming even with automation.
Interviews also tend to be on the longer end of the Podcast length scale – perhaps 45 mins to an hour, or sometimes much more. This is becoming less accessible as people listen to more and more podcasts, and so are short of listening time. I think interviews have a great place in any Podcast, but not as the sole format. You can get many of the benefits by throwing in an interview every 2 or 3 episodes, or even less often.