What Makes A Good Interview
There’s a good chance that you’re interviewing someone for your podcast. Maybe you’re even talking to lots of different people. It’s important to make the most out of the time you take to record them.
Before you get there …
Do your research.
- Make sure you understand why you’re interviewing this person. Read up on who the person is, what he or she does, and the subject you’re making a podcast about.
- Come up with a list of open-ended questions you’d like to ask during your interview. It’s OK to veer off course and good to ask follow-up questions that you haven’t planned. But a list will help get things started.
Clarify the terms of the interview.
- Make sure your interviewee knows you’re talking to him or her for the NPR Student Podcast Challenge. The person should understand that you’re recording audio.
When you arrive …
Meet somewhere quiet .
- Don’t choose to meet for an interview in a busy mall or a windy park. If you’re indoors, head to a quiet room and close the door. If you’re interviewing someone at an event, it’s OK if there’s some noise in the background as long as it’s the sound you want to have in the background. But try to avoid recording when there’s music in the background it’s hard to edit around that sound.
When you start recording …
Ask the interviewee to introduce himself or herself on tape.
- The person should give his or her name and job title . A student should give his or her age and grade.
Record your own questions.
B Microphone Pickup Pattern
Heres the audible difference between a suitable and non-suitable pickup pattern for podcasting. :
Microphone pickup pattern comparison
The above audio was recorded with a similar tier or quality of mic We kept all the variables as similar as possible in order to demonstrate a clear difference in pickup patterns only.
There are five main pickup patterns and each one of them are designed to have specific uses or benefits for different recording situations. Heres an informative diagram by acclaimed microphone brand Shure:
Check out their full blog for more information about pickup patterns .
What does this all mean? Cardioid pickup patterns are the most common and practical for recording vocals/speech because of their fair sound isolation, directionality, and ease of use. We recommend going for a cardioid pickup pattern if youre a first-time microphone buyer. Other pickup patterns, however, may work better for you, depending on your situation. Do read below at Honorable Mentions under section 5 to see if those options might be more suited to your needs.
Prepare Your Questions In Advance
This one seems obvious, but its worth saying. You dont need to prepare every word youll say, but its important to have a core list of questions you intend to ask. It also helps to have a secondary list of potential questions to ask if you have time.
That said, dont be afraid to veer off your planned course during the interview. Using only prepared questions can make your conversation feel disjointed and artificial. Respond to your guest with unique and genuine questions.
Here are a few tips to help you develop quality questions:
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Choose A Podcast Format
The structure of your podcast is critical. Here are a few podcast formats to choose from:
- Interview style This is the most popular format these days as each episode introduces the listener to exciting and inspirational people from a specific niche. The format is generally unscripted and free-flowing and requires minimum editing.
- News and current events show This format focuses on sports, politics, technology, or any other hot topic that lets you provide non-stop fresh content to your listeners.
- Multi-host show A podcast with more than two people creates intrigue and can be highly entertaining with a conversational tone. There will be less pressure on you since the responsibility of presenting great content to your audience is divided among all hosts.
- Solo style In these podcasts, you can tell a story in each episode that is relevant to the topic of your podcast. It could be in any tone as long as the content is educational or motivational. By occasionally inviting a guest on the show, you can entice the audience and engage them in your podcast.
Determine The Podcast Length
You need to respect your audiences time and set a reasonable episode length that is consistent throughout the series.
Twenty minutes is generally the ideal episode length for a podcast, as most people listen to podcasts while commuting to and from work. However, if your audience wants more, you can assess the stats and tweak your podcast length.
To keep the audience hooked, choose an entertaining format such as interviewing different people or adopting a different tempo for your podcast. By adding variety to your podcast, the length of an episode will not matter as much since your audience will enjoy your content.
The only thing that determines the length of an episode is the nature and quality of your podcast. So give it some thought before deciding on how long each episode will be.
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Respond To Your Guest
Most people hear rather than actually listen, more focused on giving a reply that suits themselves instead of the person they are speaking with. This is the number one thing to avoid when interviewing someone for a podcast. Rather than sticking to your pre-planned question list, you should respond to your guests answers, like a natural conversation. Any unnatural attempts to steer a reply a certain way will come across as awkward when you are listening back to the audio.
If Lossless Audio Quality Is A Must Record A Double
For most remote recording situations, Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts are your platforms of choice. All three are easy to set up, simple for guests to use, and feature audio fidelity good enough for most podcasts.
But if you have a remote co-host that regularly appears on your podcast, and you want to maximize the quality of your audio, a double-ender is the way to go: Each host or guest records themselves locally, and audio tracks are combined in post-production. For an additional cost, you can use third-party recording platforms that simulate double-enders without each speaker managing their own recording software.
A traditional double-ender sees each speaker recording their own audio track using their recording software of choice , and then the host or editor combines each speakers recording into a finished product. Each speaker should have a if theyre using a laptop microphone to record, you probably wont hear a substantial advantage with a double-ender over a Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts recording.
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Interview Your Podcast Guests Remotely
How to record guests remotely is one of the most common questions new podcasters and audio producers ask. You will rarely have the budget or the time to report a story or episode exactly the way you want. There is little chance of flying around to interview all your sources, to ensure consistent, high-quality sound. Fortunately, technology has provided us with several approaches to remote recording. You can still record high-quality audio without being there with your guest.
A Condenser Mic Is A Good Choice For You If:
- You live in a standalone house .
- You dont have kids or noisy pets, or if you have an office or study where you can be alone.
- You have a space in your home/office as described above in Section 2 c. Acoustics & Environment that will provide a good acoustic environment.
- You dont mind spending a little bit more on installing some acoustic treatment in your room if necessary.
- Youre far enough away from any roads, so as not to hear any cars driving by.
Why? Because condensers are extremely sensitive, which is partly the reason why they sound so great! If you had to put a condenser and a dynamic in a professionally sound-proofed room, the condenser would win hands-down. However, it does pick up a lot more ambient noise which may be distracting for the listener. This means that, if you dont have a good acoustic environment and a quiet, isolated space, then this is not a good choice for you. Heres an Amazon review that sums it up quite nicely:
Screenshot of an Amazon review of a condenser mic
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No One Will Listen To Your Podcast
You should not start podcasting with the sole purpose to amass a huge audience. If this is the goal of your podcast to attract more listeners and earn money then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You should be passionate about your podcast and excited to share your knowledge and ideas with the world. Do not let the fear of not reaching out to more people stop you from doing something you are excited about. By putting more effort into your podcasts and providing useful content, you can attract a bigger audience in no time.
Is Starting A Podcast Worth It
It really depends on your goals. What will mean âsuccessâ to you? Podcasting can be very hard work, especially if youâre trying to build a large audience or earn the big bucksâbut they have countless benefits.Podcasts are relatively easy to record and produce and have a low barrier to entry. You can record in your native language since there are podcast audiences worldwide. You can even repurpose content you already have, like blog or video contentâwhile having less competition than YouTube or blogging.Other benefits include:
- Building traffic to your website
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Begin The Story: Find Out Where They Came From
A key lesson I learned about conducting quality podcast interviews is to see the person you are interviewing as a story. You are there to help facilitate the revealing of their story to your audience.
To begin this process I always ask my subjects to go back in time and take us through their lives to bring us up to date on their current project. Everyone I interview has some kind of key theme, something that makes them special and a real success story. Revealing how they became successful is important, and discovering how they came to the place of success by digging into their past is a great way to begin a story.
I usually ask my interview guests questions like this at the start of the interview
- Where they were born
- What schooling they had and if they did any university studies
- If they had any jobs before becoming entrepreneurs
- How they developed whatever skill or speciality they are know for
- If they had any businesses/websites before the current project
You can use these questions as is or adapt them for your interviews. They should lead you to the next step, talking about their current success.
How Can I Hear My Voice Through Headphones In Windows 10
To set up your headphones in Windows 10, plug them in using either the 3.5mm split jack or the USB port . Then, select the headphones as the default sound output device in your computerâs sound settings.Then, connect your microphone.
- In the sound settings, choose the sound control panel on the right.
- Select the Recording tab and choose your microphone to set that as the default input device.
- Then, open the Properties window and adjust the settings in the Levels tab according to your preferences.
Test your new setup in your favorite podcast software!
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Recording Out On Location
What’s the best equipment for recording face-to-face podcast interviews whilst out on location? Well, that all depends on your budget, and the amount of gear you’re prepared to lug around with you.
We also have a full series dedicated to recording professional face-to-face podcast interviews. In this series, we discuss which recorder to use, why the Shure SM58 might be the best mic option for you, and the other bits and pieces you’ll need for your on-the-go interview kit.
Pick Your Podcast Hosting Provider
To make your podcast visible in the digital space, you need to sign up with a hosting company. These are platforms that store your files and provide access to your listeners so that they can download and subscribe to your podcast.
Podcast hosting platforms provide different features and options, but they all follow similar methods to store audio files.
To select the right service, you need to evaluate five criteria that will help your podcast grow.
These features include:
- Monetization support
- Social sharing features
The cost and subscription fee of each hosting service differs according to the features it provides. For perks like unlimited storage or a web domain, you may have to pay more than the usual fee.
Here are some of the most popular and reliable options for your podcast:
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Editing Extras: Adding Theme Music To Podcasts
Want to create a next-level podcast? Itâs all in the details. Adding music to each episode of your podcast is good branding. Not only does it make your podcast memorable and easily identifiable, it sets the tone for whatâs to come.
How do you add theme music to your podcast?
- Ask a friend with some musical or recording chops to create a personalized theme
- Commission a freelancer to create your podcast theme music on a website like Fiverr
- Browse the Free Music Archive for downloadable tracks that are free for anyone to use
How To Light The Interview
Okay, finally, lets actually get to the light. The most traditional lighting setup is a three point lighting design. In this three point light setup, you have the key light, which is the main light lighting your subject space. The second light is whats called the fill light. And this could be as bright as the key light or dialed down lower depending on how moody you want your shot to look. And the third light in a traditional three point light setup is the hair light. This lights the persons head and shoulders and really helps them pop off the background.
So thats the traditional configuration of a three point light setup, but you can make modifications to that if you need to. Sometimes you might have your three point light setup perfect, but then the background looks dark. In that case, you might want to take a fourth light and light up that background from the side. And if youre in that situation where you have a dark background, but you do only have three lights, you can work around that as well. So set up your key light and your hair light and then take that fill light and use that to light up the background. And then take a reflector and use that as your fill, so youre bouncing the light from your key light onto your subjects face from the side. Its a more subtle lighting look, but it definitely works.
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How To Record A Phone Interview With Google Voice
Social distancing means nearly everyone has gotten used to handling calls and meetings on Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. But maybe your podcast guest is really old-school, or their computer is on the fritz, or maybe theyre simply only able to access a phone during your scheduled call time. Its likely phone interviews will never be your first choice, but being able to record an old-fashioned phone call will come in handy.
Recording phone calls can be tricky, but using to make an outgoing phone call from your computer means you can use the same remote recording setup detailed above to record the call.
Follow Googles instructions to and then learn how to make an outgoing call. Once everythings set up, youll be able to record phone calls with Google Voice just like youd record an interview on Zoom or Skype.
Again, make sure to test with a friend and then test again before your interview.
How To Setup A Guest Interview For Your Podcast
Carli van Heerden
In the world of podcasting, believe it or not, there is a strategy and certain etiquette when it comes to setting up guest interviews. This is especially true when you are first starting out and have yet to create a following or significant audience. One of the most rewarding things about podcasting is interviewing experts, and getting the opportunity to learn from the best in their fields. For each guest that you bring on, know that their time is valuable and the more efficient your process is, the better their experience will be.
Not sure where to start? Lets go through the steps for setting up a guest interview for your very own podcast.
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How To Record Podcast Interviews Online
We’ll start with the online aspect, because it’s the most common. Recording podcast interviews remotely gives you access to a global guest pool. It means both participants can record from the comfort and convenience of their own homes, too.
In podcasting’s early years, remote recording was traditionally synonymous with low-quality audio. However, these days, there are many great online call recorder tools on the market.
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If you and your guest have the right audio equipment and a bit of skill, consider doing a double-ender recording. With this setup, you’ll each record your own ends of the conversation independently of each other. Then, you sync them together in the production phase. A great piece of kit for doing double-ender recordings is the Samson Q2U.
Your audio quality will hinge a lot on your equipment, as well as the room you’re recording in. For help and advice on this front, check out our best podcast microphones roundup. Also, check out our guide to optimal-sounding environments.