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Interviewing Unscripted: How to Ditch the Prep and Still Nail the Podcast | Benjamin Shapiro

Today’s Guest Benjamin Shapiro

Top three takeaways:

1. Summarize and Spark: Want to keep your listeners engaged? Start with a high-level summary of your guest's points and then hit 'em with an interesting follow-up question. Make your guest feel like the expert they are, and watch the conversation flow like a river of podcasting gold. Oh, and by the way, reading between the lines, making guests feel at ease off-camera is a secret weapon. Sneaky, sneaky!

2. Teach Like You're Talking to a Toddler: Explaining complex topics is an art form, my friends. As the interviewer, it's your job to ask the questions that even a newbie can understand. But here's the kicker: your guest needs to teach without patronizing. Think of it as explaining to someone who's new to the game, but not a literal toddler. If they can pull it off, it'll be memorable and gif-worthy. Who doesn't love a good gif?

3. Choose Your Guests Wisely: The right guests can make or break your podcast. Aim for experts who can bring value to your audience. And hey, if you're lucky like Ben, you'll reach a point where guests are knocking on your virtual door to be on your show. It's like the podcasting version of being a celebrity. Cue the paparazzi!

Links & Resources from today’s show

Welcome to Pod Junction where Business meets podcasting, whether you're on a morning jog, driving to work, whipping up a meal or just taking a moment for yourself. Our weekly bite sized episodes promise fresh insights from successful podcasters who have cracked the code of using podcasts to grow their business. So whether you're a podcasting newbie or seasoned podcaster, grab your notebooks and get ready. Well, hello, welcome to Pod Junction. My name is Matt Monson.

Beside me is the all round good egg, talented professional uh to the end. Ladies and gentlemen, uh podcast producers, Bayon, how are we doing? We're good. We're great. Yeah. Are you sure now? Uh this is not related to growing your business with podcasting, but it's interesting that before we hit the record button, just tell the audience what your son said to you in response to your questions. Um OK. So I asked my son yesterday, I said to him, how can I be a better mom to you? And his response without missing a beat was, can you shout less at me, please? And did you, did you uh shout at him for saying that no, because he's right. He's Right. Oh, well. OK. That's uh maybe we should do a podcast on parenting. But this is what happens when we get ready to record the podcast.

We just talk about all kinds of stuff to get the microphones set up. Uh And so I couldn't help but um make you share that story because that was very funny. So, yes, welcome to Pod Junction where we talk about parenting and we talk about business. Uh, and how do you use podcasting to grow your business and the way we do this show cos it's still very, very new. I think we're on episode four now. Is that right? I can count without taking my shoes and socks off at the moment, which is important. Um So yeah, episode four, what we do is we go and interview an expert, somebody who is using podcasting to grow their business in whatever form, uh that looks like we interview them.

We ask them all kinds of questions to be. We then play you an excerpt from that interview in the show. Uh And then Sara and I have a conversation about what that actually means for us as podcasters. Um And so yeah, it's, it's quite a fun little format and you pick up parenting tips along the way, which is a beautiful thing. So, uh that's what we're gonna do today.

We have, we have the second part of Ben of Hero. Thank you, Matt for those of you listening the reason why we're giggling is because I've just had to move that microphone again. That's ok. So we've got Ben Shapiro part two. Is he talking about microphones?

I would benefit from that conversation. Um uh Yeah, so we are talking about uh podcast topics and the interview process itself. Ok. So we've got that with Ben Shapiro. Now, this is part two of our conversation with Ben. Part one was last week.

If you haven't heard it, do check it out because Ben is an absolute legend. He is Martech. His podcast is March. Yeah. Yeah. The Martech podcast. So here is Ben Shapiro from the March podcast talking about uh his tips and tricks on how to do podcasting.

Well, so without further ado, we're gonna play the clip and then, like I said, straight after Sara and I will be back to have a conversation about it. Here we go. It strikes me to, to do that. Um uh again, I, I'm just trying to think about the practicalities of this if uh let's say we were gonna do that with this show and we were, I was gonna say, right, uh Ben, I'm gonna chop this up into five segments. I think what it means from my part is actually I as the host, I have to be a bit more prepared as well. I have to understand, I suppose how that those five episodes are going to play out or at least have some idea of, of what's going to happen in those rather than just having a conversation and seeing where it evolves. Would that, is that fair? Yeah. Part of that is our on boarding process allows it.

I actually do zero prep before an interview. I never done in years. Haven't done scripted questions and sometimes the people that are applying to be guests on our podcast get irritated. They're like, what are you going to ask me? And I'm gonna say no, it's a conversation. I, I haven't had the conversation. I don't know what the questions are yet. Um Here is our process that, that eliminates the amount of work that I have to do to basically prep for an interview. Um All of our guests come inbound and so when they uh apply to be a speaker on our podcasts, a lot of that is because we have relationships with all the pr agencies. And so when somebody hires their pr agency and they're looking to talk about brand marketing, we've got a podcast for that. So pr reps know I'm going to apply to one of, I hear everything's podcasts. Um They fill out a form that gives us the person's name, company, you know, linked in all their social profiles. But also we make them give the topics that they want to talk about. So I go through and we've got an algorithm that basically ranks people by how uh prominent of a speaker they are how big their social signals are or, or, you know, do they have a good domain rank? How big is their email list? And so we get a sense of kind of like how big of a speaker or how much they can help us share the content is and then we look at the topics as well. Um So, you know, if the ceo of sales force mark be off comes in and he says I want to talk about sales and force, that's not a great topic, but I can recognize that he is a potentially huge speaker. And so that I would write topics that I want to talk to him about most of the time.

What's happening is somebody is writing two sentences about what they want to talk about and I'm converting those into five or six word podcast titles. I am then in control of what the topics and titles are. So I know that they're going to be in my wheelhouse. My team goes and writes a, a, an interview script.

Hey, today we're gonna talk to Matt about e-commerce and podcasting. Here's my first conversation with Matt and tomorrow we're going to talk about podcasting outside of Ecommerce. Um, when I sit down, I read that interview, it has the topic that I've already sort of pre-approved and really what I'm doing is I'm using that topic as a conversation starter. Matt, we are going to talk about podcasting in e-commerce. You are an Ecommerce podcast host. Tell me why you decided to start a podcast for Ecommerce. It's your turn. Now you talk and you, and I'm, I'm starting at the high level on that one specific topic. And all I have to do is read and react. And so you're gonna go off and give me a five minute monologue. And my strategy is I'm gonna summarize what you say to make sure we're on the same page. And I'm gonna try to ask you a natural follow up to that question. So I don't have to have five questions written out for you because I'm reading and reacting what you say is important about the topic that you're an expert on.

That's why I don't have to prep that's really powerful. And so you by saying no prep, do you do the preca thing or is it just literally the first time you meet the guest is when you're hitting the record button for the podcast, you were on my podcast. It's been months now, right prior to you coming on the show and, and you know, being my guest, I had looked at your name, title company said this guy seems credible. He's got a decent audience. And I like these topics that was as much as I knew about you before the conversation was going to happen because my job as the podcast host is not to be the expert in the interview style.

My job is to provide a comfortable environment where the expert can tell me the information about the topic that we're talking about. So I'm the host, I'm not the guest. I don't have to be the world's biggest wizard in March, which allowed me to be the Martech podcast host and the voices of search podcast host and a brand marketing guest host and a, you know, I don't work in rev ops, but I can host those episodes because I know enough about the topic to just be able to ask a couple of questions that will get the experts talking about their field. So, you know, I think that people confuse the role of the host and the guest often when they're thinking about building a podcast and really what you need is somebody who is uh friendly, somebody who is a good conversationalist, not somebody who's the most knowledgeable about a subject matter. If you're intrigued and want to dive deeper into this conversation, check out pod junction cohort where you can listen to the complete interview and much more simply visit the pod junction dot com for more information about how to join. So, welcome back. That was Ben talking about his process now, uh in the first video, he, he talked about how he took his uh hour long show, didn't he? And he chopped it down into smaller shows. Um So he does five daily shows now rather than one long weekly show. And so I started off this segment by saying that does that take more prep? And he's like, yeah. No, not really. And that's the summary of Ben. Uh Does it take more? No, not really. But it's what's insightful is how he does his interview process, right? And not everybody's interview process is the same. Um And I think you have to find something that works for you. But what I, I really liked about Ben's process. uh and what really just is music to my ears if I'm honest with you is zero prep. Uh because I'm the kind, I'm a lot like Ben in that sense.

I, I'm a, I'm the kind of guy that when I do interview people. Um I, I often like to wing it. II I appreciate that's probably not the right phrase. Um But I often like to not know anything so that whenever I know some, when I discover anything, it's, you know, it's a reaction, it's a surprise in the moment. Um I do usually know some basic details cos you're very kind and write some basic information on the system that we use. Um But yeah, zero prep. Could you do an interview with zero prep? Um I would like to, I would like to be able to, but I'm just starting out on this journey so I think I could do with some prep. Yeah. Yeah, that's a really important point actually that a lot of this comes down to confidence and excuse me, while I get comfortable on my chair. So a lot of this comes down to confidence, but also down to, um, I guess how used to this whole process? You are right. So, Ben has done hundreds of podcasts.

Um, I've done a few, uh, I don't know if I've done as many as Ben, but I've definitely done a few. Um, and I suppose I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in it now than I used to. Um And what Ben said was interesting, wasn't it about knowing enough? He's not the expert, but he knows enough to ask interesting questions. That was music to my ears. Why would you say that?

Well, because as he said, you don't, I don't have to be an expert in it when I'm, when I'm the host of a show. I can, um I have to be a good conversationalist as he said, I have to be friendly as he said, but also guide the conversation and ask, you know, give them the right space to be able to share their expertise. Yeah, super wise, isn't it? And I think that's one of the critical things about being able to interview. Well, isn't it just being give them the space to demonstrate and share their expertise? Um And I think feeling confident in that one of the things that I do do, um which helps me because I is I take copious notes whenever I'm listening to somebody. So if you watch one of my, my, my podcasts, I'm looking at my notes, I've got my notes here.

These are all my notes from Ben's conversation. I like to take notes. I like to highlight things. Um, just as they're talking, I might jot down a question or I might circle something they said that I wanna come back to. Um, just so I can riff off of that. Um I think that's especially in the longer interviews because if it's a shorter interview, people know to talk for 10, 20 seconds, if it's a longer interview, they can talk for, for minutes. And so, you know, keeping focused and keeping track on that is quite an interesting thing, isn't it? Yeah. No. Very good, very good. Ben, I, I enjoyed, uh, that, so what else did you get from Ben's Chat or Ben's interview?

Um, I found it interesting that his onboarding process is actually quite robust, you know. Yeah. Yeah, because I guess that's kind of where I've been involved and I guess that sets him up then for the zero prep, um, which seems to work out well for him and it's, you know, it's a nice balance. Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it?

I, I, the guests that we have on our podcast now, so he takes something like EP or push or whatever the guests that we have. I was talking to Matthew Bracket, uh, yesterday, um, who was on the Push podcast what a legend that guy was do, check out the episode, by the way, I don't know when it's gonna come out because we were so far in front of ourselves. But, um, that episode with Matthew Brackett was really great. He, he applied to be on push. Yeah. Um, and he was recommended to us by naimi from podcast connections.

Who's awesome if you're looking for a podcast agency, check them out because she's great. Um And so we know that when Naimi recommends somebody to us on the whole, they're gonna be a good guest, right? And that whole process of choosing a good guest makes the interview so much easier because in the early days of ep we didn't do that very well. And so some of the conversations were like pulling teeth a little bit, weren't they, Jim? I mean, we can all choose them in our heads like, OK. Um And so it's a really important point to make the interview easy, have the right guests on the show. And if your, if your shows at a place like Ben's where all of his guests are inbound. Did you hear that? Uh It's a bit like ep to be fair.

I've not had to go and ask anybody occasionally, I'll ask people to come on the show that I mix. I think that'll be interesting. Um But most of the people that come on the show have applied to be on the show. And so your podcast do get to these, the, these points. If you're just starting out, trust me, they do get to a point where people are applying to be on your show. Um But it's, it's fascinating that all of his clients are inbound.

He has this robust policy and then that makes the interview an awful lot easier. Um, because he's chosen his, he's sort of filtered out quite well, hasn't he? Uh Which is, I mean, I, I have a, I have a ban on, uh, who filters the guest, which is just as a beautiful thing, uh, filtering guests out quite well.

So, um, we should do an episode on how to choose the right guest. But I mean, what are some of the things that you've learned about choosing the right guest? Um, I think some of the top things that I have learned is, um, it's not when they're on a podcast, it's not enough to just know you like to be an expert in a certain part of the field. It's being able to talk about it as well and almost to teach it because, you know, you're talking to an audience that is interested, may not, no 1 may not understand all the nitty gritty of it, but they want to learn so to be able to actually talk about it in that way. Um, I think is, is really important.

Otherwise they're just talking, that's very true. Uh, very, very true. And I think again, part of our role as interviewers, if you're doing the interview style podcast, if you're not doing the interview style podcast, this may not of any interest to you whatsoever. But I think part of our role is when we're doing the interview and you'll find this when you're interviewing people, um is you're constantly thinking and Daniella mentioned this, didn't she, you're constantly thinking of who your listener is? And so as people are talking, you're asking questions, hopefully that are interesting to your, to your listener, what kind of things would they be asking right now? And so like on something like e-commerce podcast, you can have somebody come on who talks at such a high level of expertise that actually I say to all our guests when they come on the show, you may think that I'm actually stupid by some of the questions that I'm gonna ask you. And it's not me being stupid, it's just me going.

Th there are times when I think you need to explain that to someone who is just starting out who doesn't understand the lingo who doesn't understand, you know, hasn't got that whole educational type of thing. Uh And I think that's very much on you as the interviewer to ask those questions, but you're right to be able to answer those questions. Well, your guest has to be able to teach them as if they're teaching them to a, you know, a not a young child. But do you know what I mean? Someone who's a lot younger or someone who's new to it, new to it. And I think if they can and do that in an interesting way, they always make interesting gifts memorable as well. Yeah. Yeah, it does. And I think we've had much better guess as a resort, haven't we? Yeah. What do you think to this idea that all his guests are inbound?

I think it's great. Yes, I think it's great, especially from a perspective of, um, you know, producing the show and making sure you've got um, content lined up. That's actually going to be interesting for the, for the listeners and also kind of carry the message that we're carrying as a, as a podcast. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, his process, which I thought was interesting. So he talks, he jots down 5 to 6 word titles as they're talking, he, he's coming up with podcast title ideas.

I used to do that. I tend not to do that anymore. Um We tend to let a, I choose titles, don't we? We, we were very, uh reliant on a I in a lot of those things just because I don't think that's how my skill set, that's for sure. Um And then he talked about how, um he starts off the conversation at a high level. Like how did you get involved in e-commerce?

You know, it's, it's just, it's an opening question and perhaps we should talk about this and another, all these ideas, uh you know, the power of the opening question, the opening question being the really important one, which just get the conversation started. And so in Ecommerce Podcast, I tend to ask people where abouts in the world they are or what is it they do and it just gets the guests feeling a bit comfortable um on push. Uh My be my favorite question is if you could have a podcast and you could have anybody on as a guest to interview someone that has impacted your life, past or present, who would be a guest on the show and why? And it's just fascinating. So, Matthew, when I was talking to him yesterday, he was like, I'd have my mum and dad on cos both his parents have passed away and he's like, I've got a lot of questions, I'd like to ask them and record. Um But then he also talked about getting a dictator on.

He said, you know, someone like Hitler, he said not because I think he was right, but, you know, the man was a lunatic, but I just have lots of questions. And so it just starts a whole conversation. Uh Mario, who I didn't uh podcast with yesterday. Uh Mario Lanzarote or Lanzarote, I need to get that Italian accent. And just um he was talking about how he wanted to have on the podcast, Tony Robbins, which he's quite a popular answer, you know, the, the motivational speaker and Jesus uh pairing that I wasn't expecting, I'm not gonna lie. Um And so it's like, well, this is really interesting and so you can, that just starts a whole fascinating conversation. Um And so, uh Ben, he asked a high level question. Um and then I like this trick and I should, I, I do this sometimes I don't do it all the time, but he summarizes. Yeah. So um when they respond, give the answer, he tries to summarize the key points from that answer to make sure he's understood it. Um That's actually very good parenting.

I mean, going back to the parenting top tips without kids, let me just let me just repeat back what I think I've heard um before I totally lose my cool. Uh So summarize and then uh what's the natural follow on question from that? I thought was a really start with something high level, something easy. Something that gets people talking, something that sparks a conversation in the right way for you and your show summarize some of the key points and then ask a really interesting follow on question that makes the expert, the expert because you don't have to be as the interview. I thought it was really insightful stuff from Ben. Is there anything you got from them? Um He didn't, he didn't really say this but reading between the lines, I think all of what he does actually also puts them the guest at ease to the point where they're not thinking that they're even on camera. And I think that's a really nice place for the guests to be and for the host to get them to that point because it makes the conversation for the listeners so much more valuable. Yeah, it does. It does. And that actually, I think happens a lot off camera. So when a guest come and this is why I mean, Ben doesn't do the prequels, but I, we like the prequels because people feel like they know what's going on a little bit more, especially for a podcast, like push where a lot of the guests are not podcast experts.

Whereas ep it's maybe not as important, although it does help us filter. But it's, it's one of those where in those few minutes before you hit the record button, that small talk, hey, how you doing? Whereabouts in the world are you? Um My aim in those few minutes before I hit the record button is to always make my guests laugh um in whatever you know, means I feel is appropriate at that point. It's not like a conscious thing anymore in my head. But II, I know I can hit the record button once I've gotten smile and left because they're just starting to feel a little bit more at ease and then they forget the camera's on a bit like we do, we just get chatting away and where should I look at that camera there? Should I look at that?

I just don't know. Um Professional microphone techniques. Uh So no great conversation from Ben. Enjoyed that. Um The full interview with Ben.

Tell people about the full interview with Ben. The full interview with Ben. The complete broadcast um can be found on it's our website pod junction dot com, pod junction dot com. You heard it right here, the pod junction dot com. Ladies and gentlemen is our website, like, say totally professional state of the art. Uh Yes, yes. So go visit the the website and um yeah, you can have access to that there, but you have to join the podcast cohort to do that. But yes, uh it a full interview.

This is the reason why you should join the podcast junction cohort. You get to hear that all the interview. I mean, we played lots of snippets on the show. We've got some more great snippets from Ben coming up. I have no doubt. Um But yeah, if you want to hear the full interview, now go to the pod junction dot com, you'll find the cohort information and you can hear the whole thing in its entirety.

Lots of notes you will take from that. Uh What's coming up next week. So next week we're having Tim Richardson from Your Basket is Empty podcast. He's such a Tim, you're gonna enjoy this one. Yeah. And he's gonna be talking about sponsorship. So the role of sponsorship. Very good. So if you want people to come and sponsor your podcast episodes, make sure you check out our conversation with Tim next week, you are not going to want to miss that. So make sure you do all this stuff, you know, like subscribe all those kind of things that you know to do. Uh and yeah, check out the pod junction dot com, come join us over there. And um yeah, anything else or is that it? That is awesome. Have a fantastic week, ladies and gentlemen, we'll see you next week. Bye for now. And that brings us to the end of today's episode at Pod Junction where Business Meets podcasting. If you enjoyed the insights from today and wish to hear the full conversation with today's special guest, don't forget to visit the pod junction dot com where you'll find more information about how you can join today, whether you listen while on the go or in a quiet moment. Thank you for letting us be a part of your day. Remember every episode is a chance to gain insights and to transform your business with podcasting. So keep tuning in, keep learning and until next time happy podcasting.