If there's one skill that can make or break your teleseminar, it's interviewing. I'm sure you've listened to poor interviewers – or interviewees! – and wondered how soon you could turn off the radio (or the TV) or hang up the phone. And then there are the fabulous interviewers who are so skilled at pulling great information from their guests that you could listen for hours. Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters are great examples. Even though they have very different styles, they do have some commonalities in the way they interview. Here's how to make sure your own interviewing is top-notch:
  1. Prepare. Good lawyers have a motto, “Don't ask a question you don't already know the answer to.” While you don't need to predict every word out of your interviewee's mouth, you should have a strong idea of their areas of expertise, their background, and their value to your audience. If you're not familiar with them, investigate: Read up on them online, get a copy of their book, listen to other interviews they did, and check out their website. Basically, be sure you know who they are and what they can offer your listeners.
  1. Share. Share your plan for the teleseminar with your interviewee. Do you plan to guide the session with questions, or would you like your expert to take the floor? Do you want them to mention the product or service they have to offer, or do you want the teleseminar to be pitch-free? What are the main questions you'll ask? Who is your audience? Pass this information on to your expert so he or she can prepare.
  1. Care. I have heard interviews where I got the impression that the interviewer wasn't even listening to the expert's answers. No matter what their guest said, they never really responded and simply read the next question off a sheet. Don't make that mistake. Listen and respond thoughtfully to your guest's answers, and ask the kinds of follow-up questions your audience might wish they could ask.
  1. Dare. In keeping with the last point, dare to ask a few deeper questions. The best interviews are the ones where the questions go a little deeper than in most other interviews on the same topic. There's value in going beyond the same old information that's been covered time and time again. Be different by being more thoughtful and insightful. That doesn't mean you should ask rude, personal, or deeply confrontational questions. Just be curious, open, and really involved in the conversation. After all, this is a teleseminar, not a Senate confirmation hearing!
  1. Disappear. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is putting yourself in the spotlight. As the interviewer, your job is to step into the background and let your expert take center stage. You've chosen this person because they have valuable information, so let them share it! Don't hog the microphone, keep turning the conversation back to yourself, or start every sentence with “I.”
Good interviewing takes practice, but the good news is you can start growing your skills right now! Practice on people you come in contact with – standing in line at the bank, over dinner with your family, and while watching the kids play at the Little League game. Ask them about themselves, and practice listening and responding. You might even learn something in the process!

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