Killer interviews can help you create some buzz, stand out from the crowd and provide valuable content for your information products.
So here are a few tips I learned during my experiences as a freelance writer and in grad school journalism classes to help your interviews shine–regardless of whether it’s for Fortune magazine or your own teleseminar or webinar.
1. Never ask a question you don’t know the answer to. Because like Forrest Gump said, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”
For example, you may ask what they’re working on now and they may announce a joint venture with a guru that competes directly with the product you just launched.
A perfect example of this…DC101′s Flounder was doing his first on-air interview with wrestler Jake “the Snake” Roberts a few years back. On a whim, he threw in a question asking what Roberts thought about WWE wrestler Owen Hart falling to his death the night before. The question was met with a long, excruciating silence.
Roberts–obviously struggling to hold back tears–haltingly admitted he had not yet heard the news about his friend and hung up.
It had to be one of the most painful minutes on radio ever.
Tip: Do your homework so you have an idea of what answers to expect when you’re doing live interviews.
2. When you really want the dirt, let the person finish giving their answer…then keep your mouth shut.
Silences are awkward and uncomfortable for everyone (see above LOL)–BUT you can use this to your advantage. If you can just resist the temptation to jump right in with another question, the interviewee will often feel compelled to fill the silence.
She’s already given you her pat answer, so now she’ll have to delve deeper and speak off the cuff. And what often comes out is pure gold.
Tip: I know, it can be really hard to do in practice. But if you can pull it off, you can get some real wow content.
3. Be careful with rewording any questions the interviewee gives you to ask. One teleseminar guest sent questions that just didn’t sound like words I would say. So, I reworked them a bit. Problem was, he didn’t recognize the third question when I asked it on the live teleseminar.
He thought I’d jumped ahead in the questions, so he gave me a different answer, which meant we then had to backtrack, then leap forward again. It was a mess and definitely disrupted the flow of the teleseminar.
Tip: If you want to change the questions the interviewee gives you, send him a revised copy so he knows exactly what to expect. Or, at least leave key phrases of the original question intact so he recognizes it.
Do you have other tips for creating killer interviews? Feel free to add them below. Happy interviewing!