Interviews often play a really important role in the content creation process, but how do you prepare and conduct really excellent expert interviews?
To help answer this question, our founder Amy Woods spoke to Sarah Goff-Dupont. Sarah is Principal Writer at Work Life by Atlassian where she has worked in different roles for 11 years. She is also an executive ghostwriter and public speaker.
Sarah delivered a talk at Content Marketing World 2022 called Your Words, Not Mine: How (And Why) To Spice Up Your Content With Expert Interviews – and we decided to invite Sarah onto the show to share her top tips.
Listen to the full podcast episode here:
Watch the highlights video below or head over to our YouTube channel for the full episode in video format.
Or, if you prefer, keep reading for the main points from the conversation.
Why is it important to include expert input into your content?
We can use Google to find information to help us with a topic outside our own expertise. But there is always going to be a place for expert input, especially if you want the end result to be a longer, better researched piece of content, or you are looking to elevate it to attract a new and more diverse audience.
Quite often the interview itself might actually be the content – for example a podcast interview, webinar, livestream – where a guest interview is the focus. Our episode with Sarah is case in point.
Other times, the interview is to feed into content, for example, interviewing experts for a white paper, book or research report. Or, interviewing clients for a case study,
Either way, conducting interviews, and honing our interview skills, is something we should all work at.
During her interview with Amy, Sarah talks about why she considers it important to include experts in her content wherever possible.
“For years I had just written about what I knew from experience or from a little bit of web research. But, if I’m going to write about something like how to negotiate a raise, I mean, I could write about my own personal experience doing that or what I’ve read other people recommending, but isn’t it so much more interesting if I can offer my readers the advice of a professional negotiator?!”
How to find your expert
Once you know the topic you want to create content about, how do you go about finding the right expert? You might already know the perfect person. Or, you might have to do some research. For Sarah, it starts with keyword research. She types her phrase into Google and then sees whose name comes up over and over again in connection with that topic.
Then, you want to find out more about the experts that keep cropping up, so head to their LinkedIn profile or Twitter and do a bit of digging, see how they interact with their audience and what their level of expertise really is.
Then, either you obtain their email address or through their social profiles or website you can reach out and ask for an interview.
How to ask for an interview
Pick your medium! Sarah explained that as a writer, email is the best way for her to express herself and hopefully build a bit of a rapport with the expert.
“In terms of actually putting your pitch together, make it brief, be really concise and show that you respect their time,” says Sarah. “Don’t write five paragraphs and wait till the fifth paragraph to actually request the interview. Give them a brief idea of who you are, who you’re writing for, or who you’re creating content for, what your organization is and what your publication is.”
This is important to provide a clear picture to your expert of who you are and whether appearing in your content will be in line with their brand. Let them know that you know what they have published and tell them you would like to interview them for 10 or 20 minutes for your white paper, video, blog post etc.
“Also, give them a sense of what you’re going to be asking about and let them know what’s in it for them! Obviously, they’re going to get their name out there, so that’s nice, but you’re still asking them to give up their time. So, when I pitch people for interviews, I tell them the publication that I write for, and that we have a very engaged readership of so many, a hundred thousand humans a month.”
Provide (truthful!) stats about your audience and play up how appearing in your piece of content will benefit them.
Sarah’s top tip is to always email your expert a few days before the interview as a gentle reminder. Also, include the questions you are going to ask so they have time to think through their answers and give you a more detailed, considered response.
How to draw up your questions
In terms of how to draw up the perfect list of questions, Sarah starts by going back to their body of work.
“When I was researching who to interview, maybe I skimmed their work or didn’t get deep into it, but then when I’m actually preparing my questions, that’s when I really sink my teeth in. I get the book, I read the relevant chapters. I’m underlining stuff, I’m taking notes.”
This research is so important because you want to approach your interviewee with intelligent questions that show you’ve done your homework. It will create a better interview and avoid awkward situations where you’re asking questions that your expert has answered in other pieces of content.
Plus, you want to offer people something that’s fresh and original, so it’s really important you understand the work that this person has said publicly and then find an angle, or a quirk to make it original.
Ask your most important questions first so it doesn’t matter if the interview jumps around a bit. At least you’ve got what you need and then if the questions and answers do lead you down a different path, it doesn’t matter so much.
What to do after the interview
An audio recording is an important element, because it’s useful to transcribe the interview afterwards. If you can video the interview too, if your interviewee is okay with that, then you open up a whole lot more repurposing opportunities. You can create social media videos and snippets for YouTube and YouTube Shorts for example.
“About 95% of your interview is going to end up on the cutting room floor,” agrees Sarah, “but it doesn’t have to stay there. You can do a short video for example, even if you haven’t videoed the interview itself, just introduce yourself and say ‘I just published this article on blah blah, I want to tell you three great things from the interview that didn’t make it into the article.”
You can also create great quote graphics for social media. It’s a nice idea to share some of these with your interviewee as well, because they may share them with their own audience.
If you want to connect with Sarah, you can find her on LinkedIn.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can prepare for being interviewed yourself grab our free guide – The Ultimate Guide to Impactful Video Interviews.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can repurpose your expert interviews into loads of great content, you can get in touch with us HERE.