Streamlined Podcasts

How To Slay The Awkward Silence Beast

You know that feeling when you just met someone you want to impress but you quickly ran out of things to say? *Insert awkward silence here*

Terrible, right?

Well imagine you were recording that conversation and intended to release it for the whole world to replay over and over again? The Worst!!

That’s essentially what you are doing if you go into a podcast interview without having prepared. Now, you can cut out some of those pauses in post production but the tone of your voice is a dead giveaway that something isn’t going well. Your guest knows it, you know it and your listeners know it. 

The point of having a podcast is to up your credibility and have amazing conversations with people you respect. When that awkward silence hits, you are broadcasting to them and everyone that you are that weird guy at the party that everyone makes lame excuses to avoid talking to. 

To save you that embarrassment and help you make even better content, here are the tips all the pros use to make sure they knock it out of the park on every interview!

  1. Do Your Homework

    Bu…bu…but that takes more work and I don’t have time to do research on EVERY guest! 

    I’ll give you that, it does take time. But if you want to come across as a true pro, spending even 15 minutes will make a huge difference.

    Here’s the deal, people love to talk about themselves and when they are being interviewed, that what they will do. All you have to do is know enough to tee them up and give them a nudge in the direction you want them to go. Trust me, they will go for it. 

    If all you do is listen to a podcast episode they have been on previously, you will pick up enough to have a great conversation. You can literally do this as you make breakfast and brush your teeth the day of. 

    If they haven’t been on any podcasts before, thats ok, don’t panic. Spend some time on their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media profiles.

    I know, duh!

    All I’m saying is that you should just make sure you have a basic understanding of their message/content and one or two areas where you both connect. It’s that simple. 

  2. Have a list of questions ready

    Before you invite anyone on your show, you should have figured out what kind of content you are trying to create. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Ill give you a hint: It has something to do with the title of your podcast. 

    A list of questions not only helps you flush out the content you are trying to capture, it gives you a safety net in the event that our old friend awkward silence shows up.

    Get out a piece of paper or open a new word doc and start writing out questions. Don’t stop until you get to 50.

    If you get stuck, think about what you might ask your hero or the people on your dream podcast guest list. You can also use the R&D method (rip off and duplicate) by listening to your favorite podcasts. Seriously, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Just put your own spin on it. 

    Get it? Spin… Wheel… Ok, I admit it, not every joke is a winner. Moving on. 

    Once you get to 50 questions, you should be able to throw out or combine at least 20 of them. 

    Either highlight or bold your favorite ones so you can find them on the fly. 

    Now all you have to do is have that document open when you conduct your interview. Consider this an open book exam and following these questions is how you get an A+.

    There are a few other tips that you absolutely must know about. Keep reading. 

  3. Pocket Questions

    This is a list of extra questions you can use in a pinch in the event that you have covered the guest’s story and are running out of things to talk about but aren’t ready to end the episode. 

    Basically, each question should be on topic but unique enough that the guests can expose a slightly different side of themselves. Ideally they make them think and take 2-4 minutes to answer. 

    Here are some examples that I use (feel free to R&D these): 

    • If you could write one semester worth of curriculum for every student in America, what would what would it be and when would you drop it into their school career?

    • If you had to start over with $500 and an iPhone, what would you do?

    • If you could write a note on a sticky note to your younger self, what would write and what age would you deliver it?

    Get it? Trust me, having this list will save multiple episodes from fiery doom. 

  4. Have a final sequence

    I will admit that this doesn’t work for every show so take it or leave it with this one. I’ve heard this referred to as a :

    • “Lightning Round”

    • “Random Round”

    • “Famous Four”

    • “Focus Five”  

    Basically it’s the same group of questions you ask everyone you bring on the show. This is great for two reasons. 

    1. You don’t have to think that hard

    2. You get a variety of answers to the same questions

    This gives you the added benefit of being able to create mashup episodes comparing guests answers, creating lead magnets of the top 5 answers to the questions and more

Well, thats it. As long as you have your safety net, you shouldn’t be afraid of momentum killing awkward silence. After you do this a few times, you will become a pro, trust me.

I wish you all the success as you go forward and crush your interviews!

Here’s to all your success!

Best,

Hans