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How to Prepare for Your First Recorded Interview

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microphone Blogging allows you to become an authority in your niche, and as you grow in popularity, you may get interview requests. Email interviews are pretty easy. You can go back in and edit your answers until it readers perfectly. Recorded interviews are a completely different game, though. You have to give answers off the cuff, and if you say something silly, you can’t really go back and reword it.

I’m an introvert, so video or podcast interviews make me a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous! Yet I still jump at the chance to do them because they are fabulous for promoting your blog and getting your name out there. Over the years, I’ve developed a few techniques to help me prepare for interviews so they go as smoothly as possible.

Even if you’re not intimidated by being on camera or recording a podcast with someone, preparing can really help you give a much better interview. If your interviews are scattered and rambling, you’ll be less likely to get invited to do them in the future.

Here are my best tips:

  • Do some research on the person interviewing you.

If you’re the interviewer, you need to do tons of research on the person you’re interviewing in order to ask the right questions. But if you’re the interviewee, you should do some research as well. Get to know the person who will be interviewing you to find out about their style. Will the interview be causal and fun? Will it be more formal? Who have they interviewed in the past? Watch/listen to older interviews when possible so you have a little insight as to what yours will be like.

  • Ask for questions in advance.

You can be best prepared to answer questions when you have some time to think about them. The nature of a recorded interview means that follow-up questions will pop up, but get as many questions as possible in advance.

  • Write down the points you want to cover.

Once you have the questions, go over each one and write down the points you want to cover regarding them. You don’t want to sound scripted, but you also don’t want to forget to mention certain points. It’s easy to get flustered or so excited talking about a certain topic that you forget where you were going with your response. Having a few notes in front of you helps avoid rambling and missed opportunities.

  • Open all links in relevant tabs before the interview.

What are you going to be talking about during the interview? Think about all of the websites, projects, businesses, etc. that you’re going to reference during the interview and have any relevant links open in a new tab. During the interview, it’s easy to forget the name of that cool blogger you wanted to mention or the URL of a certain tool you recommend. Don’t kick yourself for forgetting or being unable to answer follow up questions.

  • Get a good mic.

Bad sound can kill an interview. If the sound quality is poor, people won’t listen to or watch your interview, so having a good mic is important. Luckily, good doesn’t have to mean expensive. If you’re going to do tons of interviews or start your own podcast, go for the highest quality mic you can afford. But if you’re just doing occasional interviews, an inexpensive mic works just fine as long as you don’t sound fuzzy or cut out as you’re giving answers.

  • Make sure you have a secluded, quiet space and a undisturbed block of time set aside for the interview.

Get your kids out of the house for an hour. Shut the windows to block out traffic, dogs, and other noise outside of your control. Turn off your phone. These all seem like simple things, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do them!

  • Breathe, smile, and speak slowly.

Most people, myself included, have a tendency to speak very quickly when they are nervous. Be conscious of this so you slow down when you’re speaking. It’s okay to say, “Hm…let me think…” and speak slowly if you’re surprised by a follow up question and not sure off the top of your head how to answer it. People don’t need you to rush, and they definitely need to understand you. This is especially important if you have an accent.

If you’re nervous, acknowledge it to yourself and remember that most people won’t notice the little mistakes. You’re being interviewed because you know your stuff and your opinion is respected, so don’t worry too much. You’ll be fine.

After all, if I can do it, anyone can do it!


Feedback

9
  • Jason Carr

    Great advice as always Allison!

  • BenAdamSmith

    Allison, I couldn’t agree with you more on a lot of things, like speaking slowly. As a radio presenter for the last 15 years, that was one thing I constantly had to work on. It’s not as easy as it sounds, particularly if you’re excited about your content. I also agree with getting a good microphone and using it in that quiet spot. It’s vital. However, I disagree when it comes to some of the preparation. As a presenter, I always encourage my guests to go in unprepared. That doesn’t mean that they can’t think about what they might want to mention, it means leaving all notes outside the studio! When I conduct an interview I’m after some time with that person, not with his or her notes. If you are an expert in your field, you should relax – everything you need to know is locked in your brain. As Allison says, relax, and you’ll give all the right answers. The same is true for me. Although I prepare questions, when it comes to the interview I leave them behind. Following your questions in an interview can be a bit like a train on railway tracks: there’s only one way forward. My mind knows what I have to ask. If it’s a pre-record, then you also have the option of checking your notes at the end to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Anyway, that’s my take on it!
     
    Interviewing is something I have always loved. What could be more fun than meeting people? 
     
    Anyway, if anyone would like more tips, I have an eBook full of them!
    http://www.amazon.com/Radio-Interview-Technique-Revealed-ebook/dp/B0094I7JHQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347549032&sr=8-1
     
    I have now left radio behind because of what internet marketers have taught me; thanks @bizmastery1 and @patflynn plus many more. I’m so impressed how good they are without coming from a media background. It just goes to show that ANYONE can become a presenter on the internet. Internet marketers have left a lot of us radio presenters far behind. What radio presenters want is to be in control of their own shows, but the only problem is, they don’t know how to make money… until now. The future is still exciting for those people who are just seeing the light!
     

    • allison_boyer

       @BenAdamSmith    I think that advice can work for some people, but for someone like me who would never listen to someone who told me before an interview “don’t bring notes” :-p I’m an introvert by nature and also deal with some social anxiety, so without notes, I get all clammed up and anxious. I’d rather have notes in front of me than stop the interview mid-way through because I have a panic attack! But for people who are used to giving interviews or at least don’t freak out as much as I do, your tip probably works really well! 🙂
       
      Thanks for linking to your ebook – looks like a perfect fit for people who want more information about this topic.
       
      I definitely agree with your that the future in this industry is really, really exciting. That’s the best part of being involved with this conference: I’m on the front lines when it comes to seeing cool, new things people are doing.

      • BenAdamSmith

         @allison_boyer I bet if I interviewed you, you would give a great interview without notes! I dare you to try it out on the next one! Anyway, keep up the good work.
         
        Mike Russell from http://www.musicradiocreative.com/ is another UK radio presenter who’s turned to internet business. He inspired me to set up my own. He’s also an expert on audio production, so anyone who hasn’t been to his website should check it out.

  • danielmclark

    You stole one of the article ideas I have written down in Evernote for future use 😉 LOL
     
    Great job! All really good points. I’d toss in a couple more:
     
    • If given a choice between phone and Skype, choose Skype (and get a good mic, like you said).
    • Shut down any programs you aren’t using. Hearing a ding when my interviewee gets a new email is really annoying. Plus, shutting down programs frees system resources so Skype doesn’t drag.
    • Have a drink nearby. Getting thirsty 10 minutes into an hour-long interview is the *worst*.
    • Remember that you’re not live (well, unless you are). If you’re not live, things can be edited. Just relax and don’t worry about making horrendous mistakes. A good interviewer will be willing to edit catastrophes (just don’t ask him or her to edit every little imperfection).

    • allison_boyer

       @danielmclark Thanks for all the extra tips, Daniel! Sorry for stealing your idea hehe :-p You tip about shutting down other programs is really important. I once saw an interview where the person was getting Skype IMs constantly and it was super distracting.

  • shefishes2

    @fishbadass I’m ready for our reality premiere… “Prisses and Fishes.”

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