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Real conversations are different. They leave us feeling inspired, energized, and focused. That’s why they are rare.
Most conversations feel like a chore. They leave us feeling lackluster and wanting more connection. At worst, they sap our energy; at least, they’re utterly boring.
So why do we settle for a pitiful charade of generic conversations when we could have the real thing? Is it because we’re scared of connection?
I doubt that’s it! Why else then would we crave real conversations. No, it has to be something different.
In my opinion, it has more to do with the fact that we’re losing the art of real conversation.
If you’ve spent any time listening to The Art of Making Things Happen, you know that this topic is my personal soapbox. In a time when we’ve never craved connection more, we’ve never been so connection-starved.
But, it doesn’t have to stay that way!
Our latest guest has made a living out of having real conversations with perfect strangers. He has conducted over 2,000 interviews with some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs since 2006. His name, Andrew Warner.
You may know Andrew as the founder of Mixergy — a website devoted to the growth and development of entrepreneurs young and old. His site provides interviews and courses from some of the world’s wealthiest and successful entrepreneurs.
In his fifteen years of podcasting, Andrew has learned that better conversations start when one person is willing to be vulnerable.
If you’ve ever talked with someone who is open and honest enough to be vulnerable, you know they change the dynamic of any conversation.
Allowing yourself to become more vulnerable in a conversation opens possibilities to conversations you never even realized.
Andrew witnessed this first-hand when he decided to open up about feeling burnt out. Instead of going through the motions and asking a series of questions, he decided to open the interview by saying that he was going to cancel the interview due to feeling burned out.
It led to an honest conversation about the personal issues within his business and how he could correct them.
Real conversations are cathartic, authentic.
Take Your Listeners on a Journey
At their core, podcasts listeners want compelling stories.
Most podcast hosts are content to ask rapid-fire questions, but has that ever led to real conversations? Hardly.
Compelling stories have an ebb and flow. It’s the job of any host to notice them. When stories reach a lull, an interviewer must inject humor, introspection, or curiosity.
When guests share stories, they provide a depth of knowledge that goes way beyond answering a question. Instead, they’re sharing true wisdom — and that’s what listeners connect with on an emotional level.
The most memorable interviews go beyond the character asked to play a role on a show — they dive deeper into an individual and their humanity.
Everyone understands problems. They are the great equalizer of all human conditions.
So get to the stories, and forget about asking the questions that every interviewer has asked before. Be bold!
Stop Asking Questions
Some hosts believe it’s all about asking the right questions.
But is that not really true?
Andrew feels it has less to do with your questions and more to do with how you ask them. He gives the analogy of hanging out with a toddler who continuously asks why.
If you’ve ever been in a toddler’s spindly web of questioning, you know how exhausting it can become. The same is true for interviews.
Andrew suggests a subtler way — by leading people. It’s a simple rephrasing technique that gets more out of his guests. .
Asking: Where did you get your inspiration for your company?
Leading: Tell me about what inspired you to build your company.
These two lines take up the same amount of time during a podcast, but one clearly allows your guest to dive into the topic in a much more authentic way.
Andrew discusses his interview tips and more in his book Stop Asking Questions where he highlights how you can get the most out of your podcast interviews. If you’re looking to start a podcast or raise your podcast to the next level, you should consider it required reading.