Podcast producer and host David Condos breaks down how he approaches podcast interviews with both guests and listeners in mind.
In the best podcast interviews, hosts and guests connect with ease. The conversation flows. Each interaction seems effortless. But, in reality, a lot of hard work goes into making meaningful and comfortable conversation during interviews.
David Condos, podcast producer and host of Recovery Unscripted, approaches each episode he hosts with one foundational question: “How can I make my guest as comfortable as possible?”
“To guide guests well, to ask great questions—the best way to do that is to really be listening and be present with them,” he said. “If they can tell that you’re invested in that time, in what they’re saying and go on that journey with them.”
In this episode of Brandcasting, we sat down with Condos to explore the ins and outs of podcast hosting. We’ll talk about what goes into a successful podcast interview, tips for keeping guests on track and how to be a connective host.
Take on the listeners’ perspective
A good interview brings listeners new insights. Before Condos begins an interview, he curates his questions to uncover something original and thought-provoking to share with his audience.
“You want something that feels new and fresh,” he said. “You want to shine a light on something that’s maybe an under-covered topic or guest.”
For an interview to be effective, however, ensuring that listeners can follow the story being told is just as crucial as the story itself. The best podcast interviews are crafted with the listeners in mind.
“You want people to connect and part of that is not leaving them behind, being thoughtful of [the listener] during the creation process,” Condos explained.
Condos advises podcasters to think about what listeners will need to know in order to understand what the guest is sharing. Make sure you’re bringing as much context as you can into the interview — especially for guests with complex expertise.
“Approach it as if the listener really doesn’t know what the guest is talking about,” he said.
Podcast hosts shouldn’t be shy about asking guests to clarify or elaborate on intricate topics. By having guests slow down and connect the dots for listeners, your podcast episode will leave your audience informed rather than confused.
“You want to create a piece that’s going to be interesting, going to be memorable,” he emphasized, “but also going to be digestible for the listener.”
Helping guests share their stories
As an interviewer, your goal is to provide a framework through which guests can share their stories.
“My job is to set you up to talk about what you’re passionate about, what you’re an expert in,” Condos said.
One of the first challenges is to help guests feel comfortable. If you don’t take the time to help guests relax into the recording setting, their nerves may get in the way of their story.
“A lot of these people, at least in my experience, have never been interviewed before,” Condos said. “You want them to forget that they have headphones on, that there’s a mic in front of their face, and just share their story, because that’s going to be the meaningful stuff.”
In order to guide a conversation effectively during podcast interviews, it’s crucial to know the terrain. The best interviewers come to an interview having done their research.
“Beforehand, as much as I can, I research so I at least know some of the places where I want to guide them, then the more quickly we’ll get to talking about the meat,” Condos said.
Preparation allows interviewers to make storytelling decisions on the fly, steering guests toward a particular topic or allowing a question to breathe.
“When you’re prepared,” he emphasized, “then you have the ability to make those decisions about what’s right.”
Communicating with your guest
In order to get engaging and thoughtful podcast interviews, your guest needs to be able to trust you with their story. For Condos, building this trust starts long before you sit down for the interview.
“In the days leading up to the interview, make sure your communication is good, making sure you address any questions or lingering concerns,” said Condos. “So that they know what to expect.”
Setting clear expectations for your guest will help calm some of the pre-interview nerves or jitters. That way you are able to clear up any misconceptions your guest may have about podcast interviews.
“One thing that seems really big for helping people is making 100% clear that this is not radio. It’s not live, it’s not streaming out to the world as you’re saying it,” Condos explained.
Once your expectations are clear and you’ve done everything you can to make your guest feel more comfortable, you can unlock emotional depth in your conversation — making your episode engaging and worthwhile for listeners.
“All these things maybe take a little extra work and a little extra prep, but it is in your interest as an interviewer, it’s your interest for the listener,” said Condos. “Because these guests, they have their expertise, their story to tell, their lived experience. And that’s the whole point of what you’re doing: trying to get that and get it out there.”
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