How To Interview An Expert Online – Adding A New Layer To Your Content Creation
Interviewing Experts in your industry or on your topic of interest is a great way to produce content. Once you have done it a few times, it may even be an enjoyable way to create content and the only way you do it. Here’s a few reasons to consider producing audio content for your blog.
Why interviews ?
Interviews are a :
- Good way to learn as you produce content,
- Good way to connect with people in the industry,
- Good way to provide unique and fresh content for your audience,
- Opportunity to master another style of content,
- Can lead to Podcasting and audio products.
Why is it tough ?
Talking to people…yikes. It’s tougher to talk to people than write some words.
Well it is when you have never done it before but once you have a bit of experience, I’d suggest it is easier and more enjoyable than writing. Again, this depends on your personality.
There is more technology involved in getting an audio interview – not only the recording of the interview but putting it onto your blog. Certainly harder to do than write a blog post.
It takes a longer time to create audio content for your blog than purely text based content.
The Natural Progression Of Interviewing
There seems to be three types of interview on most blogs and the process seems to be a natural progression.
Most people will start with a simple Question and Answer session. Send of a list of questions and ask for the persons answers. State the reason for the questions etc.
Also works when you are asking a wide range of experts the same series of questions…for instance “10 Listing Building Experts Talk About How to Get 100 Opt Ins In A Week”
Then the audio interview where you actually talk to the person. This is trickier for both parties because it is a conversation. Or at least you want to try to make it a conversation.
Many people that get good at interviewing and prefer to create this kind of content other than or alongside written content, might start a podcast.
A podcast is kind of a commitment to do audio once a week or month although many people start a podcast and then find out they have nothing to talk about.
It can involve interviews but the Podcaster becomes a “host of a show” and can just talk about what he/she is doing rather than having to talk to someone else.
How To Do An Interview – The Nuts And Bolts
After determining who you want to talk with, consider what information you want to get.
It may even be a good idea to jot down a list starting with, “I want to find out . . . .”.
If you listen to Trent Dyrsmid’s Podcasts then you have a perfect blueprint to follow. Trent basically wants to learn about something, finds a leading light in that area of expertize and asks all the questions that he personally wants to know about.
So ask yourself, what do I want to learn from this person and write down all the questions that relate to what you want to learn. That’s the basis for the interview.
Preparing for the Interview
Choose a setting with little distraction. Avoid loud noises – telephones, TV’s music etc. If you have a study then close the door to outside noises.
Most interviews will be done online using Skype or some other form of VOIP service.
Make sure you have got your Skype recording software working. Run a test before you start talking to your interviewee. It would be frustrating and embarrassing, to say the least, if you found out that you hadn’t recorded the interview.
What Software To Use for The Interview
The consensus opinion on the best recording software to use is Pamela for Skype (http://www.pamela.biz/). They have a 30 day free trial if you want to check them out first. Personally, I use a free piece of software (http://voipcallrecording.com/MP3_Skype_Recorder) that seems to work fine.
Fit In With Your Interviewee
You want to check the location of your interviewee and negotiate a suitable time for the both of you.
You want to be more accommodating to their needs since they are giving you the interview. So this could be office times – 9-5. Or, if they work a full time job different to the topic you are talking about, you may have to arrange a time after working hours.
Explain the purpose and other formalities of the interview.
This can be done ahead of time, via email but you probably want to re-iterate the gist of the message before you start recording the conversation.
So you could send over the type of questions you will be asking and the order they will follow. You may also want to give a rough estimate of how long the interview will take.
They may want to give a resource where people can find out more about them. This could be given naturally during the interview but as a courtesy, you probably want to allow them to “plug” themselves or one of their products at the end of the interview. This is their “what’s in it for me” reward for talking to you.
Ask them if they have any questions before you both get started with the interview.
Conducting the Interview
As already mentioned above, think of the interview as a conversation rather than just a Question – Answer format.
It may be appropriate at times to use a “Q And A” format but these types of interviews are generally pretty boring. An interview is much more interesting when the interviewer responds to answers given and the conversation seems to flow. The personalities of each person are more likely to emerge in this type of format, making the listening experience better.
With this in mind, you need to develop a bit of rapport with your interviewee before hand. Have a pre-conversation before any recording takes place that helps to warm the both of you up.
For instance, check out the interviewees bio on their blog/book cover and find something you have in common. Talk about this in the warm up.
Do some basic research on the topic or the interviewee. This will help the interview flow like a conversation as you will have some opinions and insights too.
At the very least, your research should help you to know
- the issues within the topic
- what people would want to know if they were asking the questions
Make sure that your questions are open end, meaning they will encourage more than just a yes or no reply. A simple yes or no answer puts more pressure on you to ask another question and makes the conversation clipped or stilted.
So you want to ask the classic how, what, why type of questions.
Try not to speak too much either, let the interviewee showcase his/her expertize. Or worst still repeating filler words like umm or erh all the time. These words are glossed over in everyday conversation but can be annoying when listening to them on a recording.
A tip that many people give is to not say anything, especially if you have asked an open ended question. This will force the interviewee to talk and possibly get him/her into the flow.
Develop a list of phrases that you can use to move things along or segue from seemingly different questions.
Things like :
- “we’ve been talking about (some topic) and now I’d like to move on to (another topic).”
- “switching tack, could we talk about (new topic).”
- “thank you for your insight, now could be go on to (new topic)”
If you wanted to expand on the current topic, you could throw in fillers like
- “tell me more about that…”
- “and what was the result…”
- “when have others said about…”
As with most things, try to be genuinely curious. This enthusiasm will rub off on your interviewee and make for a better experience for you both and the future listener.
Best Practices for Interviewing
These aren’t hard an fast rules, but they may be something you want to keep in mind. It will make you look more professional and may lead to follow up interviews or referrals to other potential interviewees.
- If you have a subscriber list, ask them if they have any questions for the interviewee. This could also be applied to a forum if you had one.
- Try to keep an interview under 30 minutes
- Give interviewee the last word, this could be a plug for their website/book/course/consultancy :
- “Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you would like to say?”
- “Is there anyone else you think I should talk to about this topic?”
- Send thank you mail and link to the interview. If they are going to put the interview on their own site then you need to send them a link to the raw audio file or just a link on your site. They will probably be keen to listen to it anyhow.