When interviewing, be vulnerable and create a safe space to induce vulnerability in your guests.
Neil Strauss has written eight New York Times bestsellers, been an editor at Rolling Stone and a staff writer for The New York Times, and has built highly profitable companies. He is a seasoned interviewer, and this is one of his golden keys to success. Neil has found that when you are open, vulnerable, and create a safe space, you build rapport and connection quickly. Tim Ferriss has followed his advice and honed it to this format: he is open and vulnerable, addresses guests' concerns, tries to help guests benefit from the interview, and gives them the final decision about what is cut. He says the resulting interviews are a giant win for all involved, and his top-ranking podcast is proof that it is a successful formula.
- Before the interview starts, be open and vulnerable with the person you’re going to interview.
Prior to hitting the record, take 5 to 10 minutes for banter, warm-up, soundcheck, etc. At some point, volunteer personal or vulnerable information (e.g., I’m struggling with a deadline, etc.). This makes them much more inclined to do the same later. Or genuinely ask for advice but not interrupt things, along the lines of, “You’re so good at X, and I’m really struggling with Y. I want to respect your time and do this interview, of course, but someday I’d love to ask you about that.”
- Address common concerns during those 5 to 10 minutes.
Let the guests know that you understand how it feels to be misquoted and that your interview is a safe space in which they can be open and experiment.
- Find out how you can help your guest.
Let them know yours isn’t a ‘gotcha’ show. It’s intended to make them look good. Ask, “Let’s flash forward to a week after this interview comes out. What would make it a home run for you? What does ‘successful’ look like?”
- Let the guest know they have ‘final cut’ when the recording isn’t live.
They can delete anything they like. If they think of something the following morning, for instance, you can clip it out. Say, “I always suggest being as raw and open as possible. People love tactical details and stories. We can always cut stuff out, but we can’t add interesting stuff in later.”
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