Want to make your next webinar at big hit? It can be tough to do it alone. So invite an interesting guest to share the spotlight. He or she will be thrilled to get access to your audience. Here are some easy tips to demystify the process.
1. Learn about the subject
Maybe you already know a lot about the person you want to interview. If not, do your homework.
- Do an online search to find your interviewee’s website, blog, social profiles, and business bio. But don’t stop there. Find what others have to say about the person.
- Go on Amazon or other online bookseller and search for titles in the person’s field. And if something seems especially relevant, buy it.
- Pay attention to the language and word choices as you conduct your research. Half the battle is being able to understand the terms and phrases your interviewee is likely to use.
2. Prepare a list of questions in advance
Don’t try to “wing it.” Write down as many questions as you can brainstorm. Then edit your list down to the most relevant and interesting questions.
- Think of open-end questions to encourage the person to talk. For example, don’t ask “How long have you been interested in this subject?” It may yield just a quick fact: “since 2009.” Instead ask, “How did you get interested in this area?” It might prompt an engaging story the audience will love.
- Think of some closed-end questions too — questions that can be answered with a yes, no, or a short answer. Use them to get the interview back on track, in case the person strays off-topic.
3. Ask these 6 critical questions
Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem that has become famous with journalists.
“I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.”
Memorize those “six honest serving men” and use them as a checklist to make sure you cover the essentials.
4. Be ready to drill-down
Interviewees often give surface answers. For a more interesting interview, dig deeper using these follow-ups.
- Isolate one point: When the person answers with a list, pick out one item to expand. Question: “What’s your favorite color?” Answer: “I like red, yellow and blue.” Isolation question: “What’s so special about blue?”
- Expand an answer: Give the person an opportunity to add relevant information. “What else should we know about this subject?”
- Help prioritize: If the subject is complex, use this summarizing question: “What’s the most important thing we should remember about this subject?”
- Non-directive probe: When you can’t think of a follow-up, just open your eyes really wide and say, “Oh?” Then keep your mouth shut. The person will clarify the answer. It works every time 😉
5. Conduct the Interview
Now that you’ve done your homework, you’ll feel more relaxed during the interview. So help your guest relax too.
- Take a moment or two to chat. If there’s a dramatic story unfolding in today’s news, you’ll seem out of touch if you don’t mention it briefly. Or if the person is located in a different climate zone, ask about the weather.
- When it’s time to get to work, don’t read questions from a list. Instead jot down (in advance) a keyword or phrase to jog your memory. This forces you to ask the question using everyday language.
- Ask a question then listen to the answer. I know — seems too obvious. But it’s a surprisingly rare skill. If you seem uninterested, your guest will give uninteresting answers. So listen, listen, listen.
- Be gracious: Always thank your guest profusely for sharing their expertise with your audience. And if it was a great interview, praise your guest.
- Encourage follow-up: Your audience grows when you share. So let them know how to buy the guest’s book, find their website, or sign up for their email newsletter.
6. Practice, practice, practice
Interviewing is a great business skill. And the better your skills, the more fun. So use interviews to make important connections and deliver great content to your webinar audiences.
Now you’ve got a great excuse compelling business reason to watch TV interviewers. You’ll learn to spot a great interviewer and pick up useful tricks and techniques.
Got a useful tip to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments below.