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How to Deliver Compelling Interviews Your Audience Will Love Want to improve your interviewing skills? Improve your preparation.

By Mike Koenigs Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mike Koenigs and Dustin Mathews

The key to delivering a powerful interview is all about knowing what to ask and what not to ask. If you're asking all the wrong questions to all the wrong people, chances are, you are putting your audience to sleep.

Interviews are not only a great way to meet interesting people, but they're also one of the most powerful tools you can use to accelerate your status and grow your platform.

Becoming a great interviewer happens when you learn how to transform your guests into legends overnight, simply by asking questions that trigger powerful responses. How can you deliver the juicy details? How can you find the edgy story? How can you create a viral reaction?

It all comes down to the framework of your questioning and understanding your guests, as well as your audience.

How to pick your guests

Booking an intriguing guest for your show boils down to how well you know your audience. Who is your target listener? Are you reaching out to men, women, teens, entrepreneurs, sports fanatics, Hollywood gossipers or political junkies? You need to figure out what type of guest is going to keep your listeners engaged and begging for more.

You also need to make sure the guests you are interviewing are fascinating to you. If you are not infatuated with this person's story, then it's just another guest on your show. Why invite people onto your platform if they are not going to add value to you, your show, or your audience?

You want to pour your heart, energy and soul into your interviews and you cannot do this if you are booking guests, who have zero stories to sell.

Referrals and research

The best way to book fascinating guests is through referrals. Take advantage of your platform and following to grow your network. It is important, when you interview different guests, that you take an interest in them and their connections. Ask them who they know and if they would be willing to introduce you to other potential guests.

Once you get these introductions, you should research prospects before you reach out and invite them onto your platform. You want to be absolutely certain each person is going to be a great fit for your audience. This will help you avoid the risk of booking referrals and later discovering they are completely opposite of the guests you typically interview.

Researching your guests is also a great way to establish personal connections. You need to know what gets your guests talking. Which topics get them excited or emotional? Can they give you the edgy story you and your audience crave? Knowing this information ahead of time will help you establish a framework for your line of questioning.

The car chase strategy

You never want to kick off an interview with the typical, "Tell me about yourself," introduction -- or any other template questions. Cue the snoring, please! Instead, lead with an attention-grabber that will leave your listeners glued to the edge of their seats as they await the response.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the host of the Get WealthFit! podcast Dustin Mathews, who shared with me an interesting technique to help kickstart interviews. He calls it the car chase strategy, where you need to create the same excitement of a car chase scene with your interview. How do you create this sense of thrill? Well, you need to dig for those signature stories.

This is why researching your guests ahead of time is crucial to creating powerful interviews. You need to build your framework of questioning around these signature stories. These questions will give you the power to disarm your guests.

Here's an example of an interview Dustin did with me that begins with a car chase question:

You don't necessarily want to make your guests feel uncomfortable, but you do want to catch them off guard and make them think. You want to subtly guide your guests into revealing their hidden hand and show you who they truly are behind the scenes. You want to trigger emotion and vulnerability in order to attract responses your guests wouldn't normally give during interviews.

It's all about the preparation

It's always best to overprepare for your interviews. Unlike your guests, you never want to be caught off guard if you trigger a response you weren't expecting. Always anticipate the questions you prepared in advance could lead to other topics you and your guest did not expect to cover. If this happens, be prepared to come up with questions on the fly. If it's an interesting topic, you need to be able to keep the conversation moving forward.

You want to have at least 10 questions with some follow-up questions drafted ahead of time to make sure you have enough content to cover. Generate these questions based on each individual guest. If you're working with a guest who has experience on stage who has been media trained with a clear understanding of their "core story" and hooks, these questions should be based on their "signature stories." You should avoid having a standardized list of questions because each of your guests are going to have a different story to tell.

Now, you can have template questions on standby to ask your guests if you need to fill time. However, these questions should still be intriguing and geared toward your audience.

Overpreparation will help you avoid uncomfortable dead air. You never want to run out of questions to ask your guests.

However, there are situations where dead air is okay. In fact, dead air can be a powerful way to stimulate emotion and grip your audience. If you are asking disarming questions to your guests, they will likely pause for a moment to think of a response. Maybe, your guests are sharing an emotional story and they pause to recollect themselves and their thoughts. Give them the dead air. Give your guests a moment to think before they respond because you never know the type of response they are going to hit back with.

Powerful interviews are all about finding the signature story that's going to sell. It's about asking questions nobody else is asking. This is how you position yourself in the world to build legendary personas through your interviews.

Mike Koenigs

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of Superpower Accelerator

Peter Diamandis calls Mike Koenigs An Arsonist of The Mind. He helps entrepreneurs create their “Next Act,” high net, low overhead, high impact, fewest moving parts, lifestyle-compatible businesses they love. Serial Entrepreneur with 5 exits, 17x bestselling author and the secret weapon of founders.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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