Tag Archive for: interview

Looking to grow your profile or start a discussion? Successful podcasts do not happen by sheer luck. To create a show with a devoted following, a lot of thought has to be put into determining the podcast format. Most people assume that a podcast is just two people talking about a given subject, but podcasts provide a great platform for storytelling.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing the various types of podcast formats that exist, and which one best suits your brand or business goals by helping you stand out in a crowd.

Solocasts/Monologues

Solocast podcast format
Photographer: Soundtrap | Source: Unsplash

Most podcasters start out with solocasts. This is where you and your listener chat away, sharing thoughts on whatever your podcast topic is about. Solocasts are one of the easiest podcast formats, as they tend to be based on the host’s experience. Your audience will get to know you, and you are free to bring in a guest once in a while.

Solocasts are ideal for sharing your unique slant on the world. They are commonly used by comedians, narrative storytellers, and thought leaders. If you are looking to build trust with an audience, then solocasts would be your ideal podcast format because they make the audience feel as if you are talking to them directly.

Examples

Pros

  • Ideal for building a personal brand as your audience gets to know you intimately.
  • Easy to set up – all you need is a microphone and a podcasting software
  • The recording can happen at your convenience time and place since there are no guests.
  • Solocasts give you room to exercise complete creative control over your podcast content.
  • They are easy to edit as there’s just one track.

Cons

  • With no one to bounce off of, holding down the fort on your own can be challenging
  • Unless you have an established online presence, having no guests on your show can decrease its credibility to some listeners.
  • With just a single voice, solocasts tend to lack audio variety. This may lose the attention of the audience

Co-hosted Shows

Co hosted shows
Photographer: Kate Oseen | Source: Unsplash

The co-hosted podcast format can be likened to overhearing a chat between two friends. Usually, these types of podcasts have two or more either discussing a certain topic with each other, interviewing a guest about it, or incorporate both. They are low-effort, fun-filled podcasts that easy to record and listen to. Listeners that tune in to such podcasts do so because they like the hosts’ personalities and the conversation they are overhearing.

The co-hosted format is very popular in the marketing world.

Examples

Pros

  • If you have great chemistry with your co-host, these are shows that quickly build a fan base because people want to be part of the ‘club’.
  • Two or three heads are better than one when coming up with content for a weekly show. If you have creative co-hosts that come with a lot of creative ideas, the content planning process with be a creative dream.
  • No need to worry about running out of what to say as there will always be someone to bounce off of should that happen.

Cons

  • Your schedules have to line up in order for it to work.
  • It’s technically harder to edit two or more voices as compared to one.
  • Listeners can hardly relate to insider jokes and references unless they are constantly kept in the loop.
  • Unless you and your co-host(s) are professional comedians, it is hard to keep your audience engaged. This is why podcasts with this format tend to appeal to the co-hosts’ family and friends.

Interview Podcast Format

Style Philosophers podcast host MICHAEL PERRIS interviewing guest Kim Cihlar as producer Jason Charles works the mixing board.
Photographer: Gregory Cole | Source: Unsplash

This is usually the format that most people think about when they hear the term ‘podcast’. This format typically features a consistent host (or hosts) and a new guest in each episode. The guest is invited to speak about their unique expertise or insight. The host leads the discussion by asking questions and giving the guest a chance to answer them. Due to the different voices in each episode, the content feels fresh and the audience gets to learn more about a topic they are genuinely interested in.

Examples

Pros

  • The guest provides the majority of the content since they are the ones doing most of the talking. Your role as the host is to simply guide the flow of the conversation.
  • Interviewing well-known individuals who are experts in their field builds the credibility of your show.
  • Podcasts with this format are lively and engaging as there is room for multiple voices to give different viewpoints, thus encouraging discussions between the host(s) and the guest.
  • Exposing your audience to a diverse range of perspectives keeps them sticking around, helping you build a loyal following.
  • Your guests are more likely to share the podcast episodes with their following, exposing your show to an audience that’s already interested in the topic.

Cons

  • Securing high-quality guests is not a walk in the park. You should be prepared for last-minute cancellations and adjustments.
  • Some guests may end up not being lively contributors especially if they are either nervous or are having a bad day. It takes a skilled interviewer to bring out the best from such guests.
  • Finding a time to record can be difficult especially if you are looking to interview someone with a busy schedule.
  • Researching guests for your show consumes a lot of time. Unless outsourced, this is one of the reasons why most interview-formatted podcasts pod fade.
  • It’s hard to stand out among other interview-based podcasts as there are so many of them out there.

Panels or Roundtable Podcasts

panel discussion podcast format
Photographer: Christina @ wocintechchat.com | Source: Unsplash

This format is quite similar to the interview one, only that this one has more than one person. One or two hosts introduce three or more semi-regular guests to talk about a given topic. This type of podcast format creates a multi-tiered conversation with multiple viewpoints, making it sound like an organic conversation between a group of friends or colleagues.

Commonly used to discuss games and politics, roundtable podcasts are typically longer than the standard podcasts. This is because of the wide range of opinions, hence trying to keep the duration at standard levels could result in narrowing down a given topic.

Examples

Pros

  • Your listeners are exposed to a wide range of opinions and insights due to the constantly changing line-up, giving them a comprehensive view of a given topic.
  • With additional people in the room, the content pressure is taken off you. Even though you may need to moderate the conversation, you will get way more content than you could dish out on your own.
  • Hosting multiple leaders and experts builds the authority of your show.
  • Hosting different lineups helps with your marketing effort should each of the guests share your episodes to their audience.

Cons

  • Getting a time slot that works for all the guests can be difficult. It may also take more time to research each of the guests as you prepare for the interview.
  • Moderating a large group of people and preventing them from talking over one another is a skill. While interrupting a normal conversation is natural, it may end up sounding messy and confusing to the listeners.
  • The technical set up connecting several guests is more complicated as each guest will need a microphone. If remotely done, all of you will be at the mercy of your internet connection.

Mixed Podcast Format

Mixed nuts
Photographer: Usman Yousaf | Source: Unsplash

Since there is no rule to podcasting, most podcasters try out the various formats alternatively or at the same time. Just because you started out with a solo podcast does not mean you can’t throw in a few roundtable or solo shows now and again. If you find that those perform better than your standard ones, then it would make sense to produce more of those. Besides, you can always revert back to your standard format any day!

Examples

Pros

  • Allows for creative freedom for you to present information in a way you see fit.
  • Makes for an exciting show as you can take bit and pieces of each podcast format and create a unique podcast.

Cons

  • This format involves a significant amount of planning and editing.
  • Constantly changing the format can be off-putting to your listeners.
  • A larger investment may be needed in order to create a set up that will facilitate the creation of various different formats.

Over to You…

There you have it, the most popular podcast formats to choose from. Before choosing a podcast format, consider the production process.

If you’d enjoy exercising your creative freedom, the solo format would be your best choice. But if you hate scripts and just can’t imagine constantly researching for content, you probably should consider the interview or co-host format. It’s ultimately about finding a podcast format that you will enjoy working on.

Podcast guests are key in helping promote an interview style podcast

One of the best things about having an interview style podcast is that you get to know and collaborate with some really cool people. And if you're lucky, your podcast guest will help you to promote "their" episode and your podcast.

If you're even more fortunate, your guests are well connected and have a large social media following – resulting in more people being aware of your podcast and subscribing along the way.

Don't Fall Into The Expectation Trap

You might expect that your podcast guest will help you promote "their" podcast episode.

But make sure this is not an unspoken assumption on your part.

After having launched over a dozen shows, I’ve found that getting your podcast guest to share episode links with their own social networks can be like pulling teeth. It's a bit like asking for reviews, people seem happy to do offer them in principle, but then it rarely happens without gentle reminders. Repeat reminders.

And depending on your own personality type, asking explicitly may not be in your nature. Repeatedly.

Add to this the fact that the more connected and “famous” your guest is, the less likely they are to do this without being prompted.

Getting a podcast guest to want to help co-promote breaks down into 2 parts:

  1. Designing a pleasurable experience of being on your show
  2. Making it super easy to help promote your podcast

So here are some tips to make this easy on yourself, and even easier for your guest.

Part 1: Designing the Podcast Guest Experience

Podcast guest experiences are a matter of design
Podcast guest experiences are a matter of design

You want your guests to be excited to be on your show. For guests that have never been on a podcast before, this may require some gentle education about the mutual benefits of being on your podcast. The goal is to foster a sense of excitement, collaboration, co-ownership and reciprocity.

In fact we have found that once guests truly understand all of the benefits of "guesting" on your podcast, they are much more likely to chip in and promote the episode when it goes live.

Explain How You Will Present Your Guest In A Good Light

We have an on-boarding sequence when we book podcast guests on our shows. During this process we reiterate that the process is designed for us to be able to promote the guest, highlight their background, links to their website, current initiatives and so on.

During this phase, we ask them to fill out an on-boarding form. They are to provide social media links, books they are promoting, short bios, profile pictures etc. This is so that we can create a great looking guest section with pictures and links to their work.

In other words, we want to create great looking episode show notes that our guests would be proud to share and to help cross promote. Essentially, we're doing this on THEIR behalf.

Making the Sign Up Process Easy

Still, people are busy, and they hate to fill out forms. Especially if they seem complicated. So here are some design aspects to help make this process easy:

  1. Do not use a super long intimidating looking forms with lots of fields to fill out
  2. Instead, break fields into manageable small sections with fewer fields
  3. If you are on WordPress, use a forms tool that supports a "wizard" like interface, which breaks the sign up process into smaller steps or pages
  4. Display a progress bar on the sign up form
  5. Extra credit for forms that can be "saved" in the middle of filling out a form

Here are some WordPress tools that support multi-step forms

Eliminate Technical Difficulties

You want your interview to go smoothly, and making sure there are no last minute technical difficulties is important. Look at it from your guests point of view: They may not be used to Skype. They may not have headphones, earbuds or microphones. They may not know how to connect these or configure Skype in the right way.

We produce some podcasts where our guests are an older demographic or simply "tech averse". Or we get people who cannot use Skype because they are behind a corporate firewall, and we therefore need to offer alternative recording platforms like "Ringrr".

In any case, the last thing you want is to discover these things the last minute before starting to record, which usually results in a flustered guest.

2 tips for eliminating technical issues

  1. Send a "technical setup" email as part of your guest onboarding sequence.
  2. Arrange for a brief test call a day or so before the actual interview to iron out any issues. Some podcasters have a brief 10 minute "test" conversation with their guests right before the interview starts, and this is OK as long as you are confident that your guests have the equipment and experience to handle that.

Prep Your Guests On What To Expect

Being comfortable doesn't just depend on technical issues. Guests appreciate having sense of the flow of the conversation.

A lot of podcasts follow a set interview structure, with predictable segments and questions that the guest will be asked. Take John Lee Dumas' "Entrepreneur on Fire"
podcast. He has an episode format with certain questions that each podcast guest can easily prepare for ahead of time.

Open ended conversation with surprise questions may be more unsettling for your guests. But this may make for a much more interesting listening experience for your audience, and result in more surprising and compelling podcasting.

In the end you may have to balance your guests comfort with your listening audience's expectations for compelling conversations.

Tips for balancing guest vs listener experience:

  • Approach it from a hybrid perspective. Feature open conversation segments, but also have several prepared questions for your guest to fall back on.
  • Ask your guest to listen to one or more representative podcast episode so they know what to expect.
  • Send your typical episode structure outline to your guest via email as part of the aforementioned "onboarding sequence". Even if you have mostly unstructured conversations, sending a "guest cheat sheet" ahead of time is a good idea.

Part 2: Getting Your Guests To Co-Promote Their Episode

Getting your podcast guest to share
Make sure your podcast guests know you would like them to share your episode

Make Your Expectations Clear From The Beginning

In our guest on-boarding sequence we already make it clear that we expect podcast guests to share the episode on their social networks, in a nice way. And we tell each guest that when the show goes live, they will receive ready made shareable links and notifications.

Automate The Process

Scripts and templates are designed to make your process easier.

A great tool for this on Mac is an application called Text Expander. This is where you can store pre-written emails. When you are ready to send the email, a popup will prompt you to simply fill in the blanks with the needed information. In this case that would be the name of the guest, name of episode, episode URL, etc.

Which emails are part of our typical on-boarding sequence?

  1. "Thank You Note", sent right after filling out our podcast guest application. This is a short simple email. We don't want to overwhelm with too much information at this point. But we do include a Calendly or YouCanBook.me link to schedule a test call and get this on the calendar.
  2. "What To Expect" email, sent an hour after filling out our podcast guest application. This includes our podcast "one sheet" PDF with typical episodes, show structure, about pages and other useful links. It also contains guides for technical setup, wearing earbuds, Skype etc. We ask guests to ask questions at this point.
  3. "Reminder Email", sent 2 days before recording. By this time you as the host might have formulated some guest specific questions in addition to the normal episode structure. Also this is discussed on the pre-call.

Some Automation Resources:

Make Sharing Easy For Your Podcast Guest

One of the easiest ways to get people to share is to send them an email containing instructions on how to share your show notes post on your website. They will want to check out the show notes pages anyhow, and in many casts that is true.

The problem with that is that you are asking your podcast guest to take the time to visit your website, check out your show notes page and then use social share buttons to share. And in this scenario they have to come up with some clever text to share. This is not exactly distraction free, as they might start reading your show notes, listening to parts of the interview. Next thing you know they have forgotten to share, and OMG, look at the time.

Usually our guests are extremely busy people, what if there is a better way?

Well, there is. By all means, first send your guests to the show notes page to check it all out and to see what a quality job you did.

But then send them ready-made share links in one or more separate follow up emails. A big benefit benefit of this strategy is that you want your guests to share your show notes page. NOT the iTunes link. Not the episode on Stitcher or SoundCloud or Spotify.

Social share traffic needs to go to your website, not iTunes.

There are some really awesome services out there that let you prepare ready-made tweets and Facebook shares. They are easy to use, and you can prepare several social shares for your guest to click on and use. These can simply be sent via email. Your guest does not even have to visit the show notes page to use these:

Sharing Ease Resources:

The idea is to send your podcast guest a separate email with a range of pre-made tweets and social shares.

  • Click To Tweet – is a twitter specific service that generates tweets. Click here for another example of a ready-made tweet to our "The Podcast Growth Show" homepage.

A Simple Sharing Text Example

Use something like the below for Facebook/LinkedIn and/or Google+

“I was just on the [NAME OF PODCAST] with [YOUR NAME] and talked about [WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]. If you’re [REASON WHY SOMEONE MIGHT BE INTERESTED], listen here: [PASTE THE LINK FROM STEP #1)

Use something similar for Twitter and include a service like ClickToTweet:

“I was just interviewed by [YOUR TWITTER HANDLE] and talked about [WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]. Listen here: [INSERT SHORTENED LINK FROM STEP #1]”

But be creative, and don't just send one single share. Send a range to choose from. Outline the text for each share and then paste the share link next to the share text in the email

Share The Success And The Once Is Not Enough Rule

You may think that after the initial share of your live episode you should not repeatedly ask your guest to help promote. I get that.

But your podcast guest will love to hear about how popular their episode was. So here are some good ways to stay in touch and to send additional shareable links without being a nuisance:

  • Let them know how well received the episode was, and place some additional shareables at the bottom of that email.
  • Even months after the interview, you can reach out to let your guests know that you are getting great feedback. Again, place some share links into that email.

Conclusion

Involving your podcast guest in the promotion of their episode and your podcast overall is a critical element in building a community around your show. I can summarize the important bits like this:

  • Educate your guests on the benefits of appearing on your podcast
  • Set an expectation that this is a collaboration that can succeed only with their help, beyond just showing up for an interview
  • Make it as easy as possible to be on your show
  • Make it as easy as possible for your guests to share your episodes
  • Be persistent and follow up more than once