Issue 12. Shut up when interviewing someone for you podcast

Oct 12, 2021

The ‘Interview Podcast’ is one of the most popular formats. They tend to be fairly easy to set up, record and edit, plus audiences tend to like them.

A bit of interviewing advice I was given years ago was to STFU!

I’ve always remembered this and hopefully when you listen to my podcast you can’t hear me chuntering in the background.

Lets look at why to need to shut up!

Shut Up!

It’s so easy to keep saying ‘um’, ‘yeah’, ‘right’ when you’re interviewing someone. It almost feels unnatural to be quiet but settling into this crutch means you can end up with an interview that’s tough to listen to.

I don’t class myself as an expert interviewer by any means but over the last 20+ years I’ve interviewed politicians, pop stars, celebrities and hundreds of others. Right now I interview one or two people per week for my marketing podcast.

I totally understand why folks do a lot of um’s and yeah’s as it feels natural for you to let the other person know you’re listening to them and the line hasn’t gone dead! And yes, this is important. You don’t want to shut up completely and say nothing, but on the other hand you don’t want to keep repeating ‘Uh Huh”.

Record Multi-Track if you can

The chances are if you ‘yeah’ a lot during an interview it’s going to be at the same time as the guest is talking which means it will be difficult to edit later.

If you can, record your interviews on two separate tracks. One for the guest and one for you.

This is how I do it. You can then edit your own track and remove the yeah’s while leaving your guests track intact.

I find this useful for other reasons as well. I’ve spoken to guests who have air con units going in the background and with multi-track recording I can apply different types of noise reduction to each track.

Listen back as a listener

One tip that will help you identify if you’re irritating your audience is to listen back to your podcast as a listener would and not just when editing.

You get a better feel of the cadence of the interview, you hear it as it should be heard and you’ll be able to spot if you say ‘uh huh’ too much.

Practice shutting up

Be conscious of what you’re saying during the interview so you don’t develop any bad habits.

One of the skills of an interviewer is to make an interview sound like a chat but without the irritations of over-talk, um’s and yeah’s.

Practice every time you record an interview, listen back to what you’ve recorded and be critical of yourself.

One step at a time, try to make things better.