Posted on / by Britt / in Video marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing

7 Ultimate Guest Interview Tips for Business Owners

If you are one of the many business owners who have decided to launch a podcast or stream a show on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, or some other digital platform so you can grow your brand, you might want to feature guests on your show. Having a video content strategy that includes guests can be a great way to increase your reach by tapping into the network that follows your guests. 

This is especially true if you select popular, well-liked guests and have an established fan base that matches the audiences you want to target. Featuring guests like customers, employees, or personalities who are just plain entertaining or engaging to your fans is beneficial, too, even if they are not as well known. 

Your audience may find your videos more attractive if they see you interacting with another person on camera, rather than just talking into it by yourself. While selecting the right guests because of their popularity or potential interest to your target audience is essential, it is equally crucial to make the most out of your guests’ participation by interacting with them in a way that puts on a good show. 

Creating and executing an interview strategy that engages viewers can be a challenge if you are a business owner with no formal training, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few pro tips you can use to make your conversations more interesting on camera.


Warm-Up With Easy Guests

If you are like most business owners and don’t have any formal training in show business or journalism, the first thing you should do is hone interview skills by selecting guests who are easy to talk to. Make a list of potential guests who are popular or could be interesting to your target audience, and start with the ones that you are more likely to be comfortable with on or off-camera.

For instance, you could start by interviewing people on your list who are friends, family, or people you know very well. You can also prioritize guest appearances by people who are outgoing and have a lot to say over shy people. This will make it easier to have smooth conversations as you experiment with using interview techniques.


Ask Open-Ended Questions

One way to facilitate an interesting on-camera conversation is to focus on asking open-ended questions that invite your guests to give detailed answers. For example, rather than asking questions like, “Is it true that you recently won an award?” you can ask, “I heard that you recently won an award; can you tell us about it?”


The first question is close-ended and gives your guest the option to stop at a yes or no answer–boring! The second question is more likely to provoke your guest to answer the question with a story and, if you are lucky, they may even respond with some emotion. If they don’t do it on their own, you can always draw some feelings out by asking follow-up questions such as, “How did that make you feel?”


Ask Reflection Questions 

Inviting your guest to reflect on what they share can be a simple way to milk a story or insight they may have shared by adding some drama. Asking how they feel about something is a simple reflection question you can throw in as your guests describe experiences. 

You can also ask questions like “Did this surprise you? Why?”, “What did you think/hope/fear would happen?” or “When X happened, how did you feel/think?” Reflection questions may catch your guests off guard a bit, and they may even pause to think for a moment. Don’t be afraid of the silence. Embracing a dramatic pause can add some exciting momentum to your video and build up anticipation for your viewers.


Avoid Guests Answering Questions Off-Camera

This one is tricky. Many guests will ask that you send them questions ahead of time, but you should avoid doing that if it’s at all possible. When people have too much time to think about or prepare answers, you are more likely to lose the energy that comes with hearing and answering a question for the first time. 

Viewers respond well to energy and emotion on camera. When a guest has had too much time to prepare the answers they will give, they may be less likely to display emotion because they will be concentrating more on reciting the answers they have prepared. Sending them the questions before the interview or even rehearsing answers right before the show can make for a very flat interaction on camera. 


If your guests are nervous or are afraid of surprises and request a list of questions, you can offer them bullet points of the topics you want to discuss as an alternative. This way, they can prepare for the show without eliminating the benefits of reacting to questions on camera with all of the benefits of spontaneity. 

Suppose your guests insist on receiving the questions ahead of time. In that case, you can always try to sprinkle in some surprise reflection questions in between to add spontaneity while sticking to the original questions.


Ask Questions You Already Know The Answers To

There are many benefits to asking questions that you already know the answer to, that many business owners miss because they feel silly for asking. The key to leveraging this tactic is to be strategic about asking so you don’t appear ignorant. For instance, asking questions about things that are common knowledge may not be ideal. However, asking questions that you know the answers to, but your audience may not know the answer, can make for an exciting dialogue. 

Remember that the whole point of interviewing your guests is to inform and/or entertain your audience, not yourself. Don’t limit the conversation to your interests. Ask questions about things that will inform and engage your audience, even if you have heard it all before. Ask your guests questions about interesting topics on camera, even if you already know what they will say.


Help Your Guests Tell Your Story

Some guests are naturally better storytellers than others. If you are interviewing a guest who is struggling to share, who gives you short answers, or is just not interesting, you can help them by asking questions that guide their responses along with an interesting storyline. 

If they seem stuck or at a loss for words, you can simply ask them is, “What did you do next?”. You can also give them a break to collect their thoughts and, at the same time, inspire them to talk more by sharing something about yourself that relates to their story and makes them feel more comfortable. This one comes in handy if the energy is entirely flat, and you want to rekindle it with your own energy before throwing the conversation back to them. 


For example, you can say something like, “That reminds me of when I experienced X, and I felt ____, was it the same for you? How did you feel?”. You can also repeat their answers back to them, but in your own words, in a way that you think points out the key parts your audience would like to know. 

For example, suppose your guest is rambling. In that case, you can politely interrupt them with a statement like, “Let me get this straight; what you are saying is ____.” Then you can follow it with an emotional response like “Wow! Unbelievable!” or some other appropriate label. Then transition the story back to them with a question that keeps the story going like “What happened after that?” or a reflection question like, “What did you think was going to happen?”.

Challenge Your Guests To Correct You

Once you get comfortable with the tactics above and feel good about your interview skills, you can test this last hack, but please proceed with caution. This hack can be a great way to get people to express themselves, but it can also backfire if you are not tactful. 

If you have a guest who is not engaging with you, is extremely shy, too monotonous, or simply not “performing,” try repeating back something they said in an incorrect yet reasonably believable way or mislabel a statement they made. When people feel misunderstood, their natural response will be to correct you. That can help bring the energy level of the conversation up a notch or two. The danger here is that you don’t want to cross the line and misrepresent or offend someone. 

For example, suppose someone is telling you that they decided to write a book on ants because they are fascinated by how hard they work. In that case, you can repeat what they said with a strategic mislabel like, “So you’re saying that the most interesting thing about ants is that they work hard?”. Chances are they will correct you and share other interesting facts about ants. But if you make an off-topic statement so exaggerated that it can be offensive like “So you’re saying that you believe in slave labor?” your guest could get offended, and the tactic could backfire. 

Intentionally mislabeling and incorrectly paraphrasing your guests’ statements, thoughts, beliefs, or emotions can help bring up the energy in a conversation because it will trigger your guests’ instinct to correct you. In doing so, they will likely respond emotionally and expand on their insights. However, you need to be very careful not to cross a line and say offensive things to your guests or look like you are not paying attention to what they say.

 Remember that having a video content strategy that helps you promote your personal brand and business brand can help you grow your business if people are interested enough to watch. Having guests on your show and interviewing them in ways that capture viewers’ interests may or may not come naturally to you, but with these pro tips and a lot of practice, it’s very doable. 

Whether you are just getting started or looking to improve your videos for your business, we challenge you to integrate these tips and put them to the test. If you need help, you can always reach out to us at ULTIM Marketing to learn more about how we can help you create video content that enables you to stand out from the crowd.