No. 087 [Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd

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No. 087 [Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd

We have a special treat for you this week: an interview with one of Jerod’s favorite podcasters … even though she’s not really a “podcaster.” What she is, undoubtedly, is a remarkable interviewer. And in this episode of The Showrunner, she shares her tips and best practices for conducting better interviews that will make your audience THINK.

Krys Boyd is the host of THINK, a daily public radio show in Dallas, Texas. THINK is also published as a podcast, which is how Jerod (and his wife) found the show and became regular listeners.

THINK launched in November of 2006 and has won numerous awards. The podcast is doing quite well too — at over 200,000 downloads each month, more than half come from outside the state of Texas.

Krys has interviewed everyone from Jessie Jackson to Jane Goodall to Bryan Cranston, and she is one of the best crafters and askers of questions you’ll find anywhere. Her preparation and ability to guide a conversation are remarkable.

We really appreciate Krys taking some time out of her busy preparation schedule (which she discusses) to share some of her insights with us here on The Showrunner.

Among the topics we discuss:

  • Does she consider herself a podcaster?
  • How she is able to properly prepare for ten hour-long interviews per week
  • How she and her staff determine who will be on the show
  • What her research and preparation process is like
  • How she plans and organizes her questions/notes before each interview
  • How she balances the research and preparation she does with the need to live in the moment of an interview and follow interesting threads she may not have anticipated
  • What she would teach on the very first day of a class about interviewing (and who she would choose as her first guest lecturer — this answer really surprised me)
  • Who remains on her interview bucket list
  • What her success criteria is for an interview

The interview with Krys only stops out of respect for her time. The questions could have gone on endlessly, given her breadth of knowledge and willingness to be open about her experience and process.

Have a great listen, and take advantage of these links:

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

Jerod Morris: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free, 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Welcome to The Showrunner, where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run a remarkable show. Ready? Welcome back to The Showrunner, the podcast for people dedicated to creating remarkable audio experiences for their audience. This is episode number 87. I am your host, Jerod Morris, VP of Marketing for Rainmaker Digital. I will not be joined momentarily, as I usually am, by my obsessed-with-how-entrepreneurs-got-started co-host, Jonny Nastor, the benevolent overlord of the Hack the Entrepreneur empire. Why is that?

Well, because we have a special treat for you this week, it’s an interview with one of my personal favorite podcasters, even though I bet she doesn’t even consider herself a podcaster. I’ll ask her so we can find out for sure. She is most certainly though, a showrunner. She creates two remarkable audio experiences every weekday that make me think about important and interesting topics. That is truly one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your audience. I will introduce her here in just a second.

First, I have a question for you, and I hope it’s a question that will make you think. Here’s that question. What could happen if you launch a podcast in the next 30 days? Or, if you already have a podcast, what could happen if you commit to making your podcast better in the next 30 days? You’ve already taken the first important step, which is to be here listening to The Showrunner podcast, so why not take the second step, especially when it’s so easy and so free? Yes, we have a free report and email course that will help you move forward in a meaningful way in the next 30 days. I know that might not sound like a lot of time, but I bet you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish as a showrunner in just 30 days. I know that I always am.

Go to Showrunner.FM/Report to download the free report today and get the email course started. That’s Showrunner.FM/Report. All righty, our guest on this week’s episode of The Showrunner is Krys Boyd, the host of the podcast Think. At least that’s how I came to know about her show, was as a podcast. But the reason that she may not consider herself a podcaster like you or I do, is because her show originates as a radio show.

Think is a popular morning radio show here in Dallas where I live. Yes, I do recognize the irony of not discovering a radio show from my own city until I stumbled upon it as a podcast, but I suppose that is just a sign of the changing audio consumption times. Think launched in November of 2006 and it has won numerous awards since, including the 2012 Public Radio News Directors, Inc. first place award for best call-in show, the 2013 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news coverage, and the 2016 Texas AP Broadcaster’s second place award for local talk show.

The podcast is doing quite well as well at over 200,000 downloads each month — more than half of which come from outside the state of Texas. I highly recommend that you check out Think and subscribe to the podcast. You can go to the website Think.KERA.org. We will, of course, put that in the show notes for you. Krys, the host of Think, has interviewed everybody from Jesse Jackson to Jane Goodall to Bryan Cranston. She is one of the best crafters and askers of questions that I have ever come across. Her preparation and her ability to guide a conversation truly never cease to amaze me, which is why I reached out to her and asked if she’d be willing to come on an episode of The Showrunner.

I know I have learned a ton from her just by listening, and I’m pretty sure that she’ll have interesting insight and experiences to share that will help both me and you improve our interviewing skills. Plus — full disclosure — it’s a really cool chance for me to impress my wife, who you may remember from the very first episode of The Showrunner and who is a huge fan of Krys’s.

You see, my wife and I both listen to Think, and our evening walks often turn into discussions and debates inspired by a recent episode of Think that we listened to. Truly, discovering Krys’s show has made us think and encouraged us to talk about subjects that we might never have discussed together. In a lot of ways, it’s deepened our relationship and our understanding of one another. That’s what a remarkable show can do.

My thanks to Krys for creating a show with that kind of power and for taking the time to chat with me and with you on this episode of The Showrunner. My love, I know you’re listening, enjoy this episode. It’s dedicated to you for being the best wife and the most enthusiastic and selfless new mother I could possibly imagine. Between you and the birdie, I’m truly the luckiest man in the world. All right, now here’s my conversation with Krys Boyd, the host of Think. Krys, welcome to The Showrunner, it’s so great to have you with us.

Krys Boyd: Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure.

Jerod Morris: In the intro, I was remarking how ironic it is that your show is based in Dallas. It’s on the radio every day. I live in Dallas. And yet it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the podcast that I started listening to you. I’m curious if you hear that more and more these days?

Krys Boyd: We do. We’re carried statewide now in Texas, but we have something north of 200,000 podcast downloads a month. We know that some of those come from other states, other cities, and other countries, because we hear from people in email, or people will call into the show because they’ve been streaming the show. Yes, I think a decent portion of our audience is podcast-only.

Jerod Morris: Do you consider yourself a podcaster?

Does Krys Consider Herself a Podcaster?

Krys Boyd: I suppose I do now. We think of it as a radio show because most of the shows that we do are live, so there’s an element that is very much like old school live radio. But we are always thinking about how well this will translate for our podcast audience, and we make a few edits to the podcast so that it doesn’t feel like you just got something that was pulled directly off the radio and stuck into a podcast.

Jerod Morris: Interesting. Has the increase in podcast listener and the importance that that’s taken on changed things for you at all? How you plan? How you prepare? Anything in addition to what you just said?

Krys Boyd: We’re always aware that people might come to us after the fact. Obviously they can’t participate in calling in to the show or communicating with us via Twitter during a live broadcast if they come to it later, but mostly we’re thinking that somebody might hear this show a little while after it’s actually happened.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. I want to talk about your interview technique and preparation, because when I first started listening to your show, that was what impressed me the most about you as a showrunner, as the person running the show. I think it’s important to let people know how your show is structured, because it will be a lot different from what most of our audience will be doing. Just to set those parameters, you host a daily show, it’s Monday through Friday, with two interviews each day. As you said, they’re done live on the air and you regularly take callers too. Then the interviews are published as individual podcast episodes that afternoon.

In fact, as we’re recording this, I just saw your new episodes pop up on my phone. I look forward to listening to them after this. There’s no batch recording of interviews and then publishing them once a week, which is how a lot of podcasters will do it. How challenging is it maintaining that aggressive of an interview schedule and still feeling prepared for each one?

How Krys is Able to Properly Prepare for 10, Hour-Long Interviews per Week

Krys Boyd: It’s challenging. I’m in a rhythm right now, which is really helpful. We leave a space or two every week for something that is breaking news and that might happen any day of the week. We will always have what we call an enterprise hole. That’s for something that has happened so recently that there wasn’t time to plan it two weeks ago, or make calls, or whatever. If something important is happening, we take the liberty of rescheduling something that is maybe less timely in order to cover that. Although we’re not entirely news-based, we are a journalistic-style podcast, so we want to make room for that.

For the things that are scheduled ahead of time, I like to prepare actually a week before the interview. So tonight I will take home the things that I will ask questions about on the air a week from today. What that allows me to do is to read the books and all the research material, make notes to myself, and then let it germinate in my head. If there are other things that it causes me to think about, it gives me a little time to look up something else that I started wondering about or thinking about when I was studying for the show. It allows me to go into it feeling like I’m not as rushed as I might be if I prepared the night before or the morning before.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, if you were always cramming.

Krys Boyd: Right. I am always cramming, but I cram in advance.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. That’s very interesting. So have you always done it that way?

Krys Boyd: It took me a while to find this rhythm. There was a time when I worked the night before each show. To be honest, the reason that didn’t work for me is I had, at the time, small kids. You know how it goes. Somebody has a soccer match or sprained an ankle and needs to go to the doctor, and it didn’t leave me enough time for small emergencies. That was part of it.

The other part of it was, every once in a while you, with the best of intentions, recognize that a guest that you thought would be good for a show or material that you thought would be good for a show, isn’t going to work for some reason. Either you realize that the content isn’t robust enough to really fill a one-hour interview, which is a lot of time, or it’s happened once or twice that someone’s qualifications were different than what we imagined. If we have to make a change the night before we will — and we’ve done it — but it works a lot better if we’ve got a little bit of notice if something has to change.

Jerod Morris: Ah. How do you determine who you will interview and start putting together your schedule?

How Krys and Her Staff Determine Who Will Be on the Show

Krys Boyd: We have lots of pitches coming in to us. Publishers and publicists know of the show, so lots of people, if they’ve just published a book or something … Either they’ve done the show before, or their publicist has heard about it and knows that it’s a good opportunity for a lengthy conversation, not a sound-bite-level conversation, so they’ll get in touch with us. Lots of pitches come in that way, and we honestly have to say no to a lot more great ideas than we can say yes to.

Then, on the other side, are what we call enterprise shows. Right now we’re talking about doing a show with a variety of segments on the topic of outrage. There’s so much outrage going on in the world right now and we wanted to look at the science of it. Why it’s important that humans have this emotion. What we do with it when it’s positive, when it’s negative? What we do when it is dialed up to 11 and we can’t get any more angry, how that affects civil discourse, that sort of thing. That’s a show that is an idea that originated within the staff that we talk about who the right guests would be and how we want to approach it.

Jerod Morris: I imagine you’re able to lean on your staff then, for a lot of help in going through some of these submissions, in talking some of these things through, coming up with ideas for future shows that you want to do. How big is your staff and how much impact do they have in helping you prepare?

Krys Boyd: I have a terrific staff. Unlike a lot of people who are making podcasts on their own and are extraordinarily productive by themselves, we have an executive producer named Jeff Whittington, and his job is to really … He oversees a variety of different projects, but he is there looking at big picture things. He’s dealing with the relationships that we need to make with other stations, that sort of thing. Stephen Becker is the day-to-day, he’s the producer of the show. He’s playing a role — as everyone on the staff is — in helping to determine content, but he’s also communicating with the guests and looking for ideas. He’s the first line, Stephen is, of taking in pitches and saying, “Okay, here’s 10. I’m going to give these three to Krys and she can pick one.”

Then we have an associate producer named Samantha Guzman who calls and confirms the guests. She works on our website. She pre-interviews the guests sometimes. If someone has not done an hour-long interview in the past, she wants to make sure that they will be a good fit for the program. I’m simplifying all of their roles, but everybody has good ideas and everyone on the staff is reading a lot of different sources of information that might make good enterprise shows in the future, or might allows us to feel like we’re definitely keeping up with things that are happening.

Jerod Morris: All of us who have done just one interview know how much goes into it, so the fact that you’re doing two every day — you wouldn’t be able to do it without that level of help, I’m sure. I’m sure that’s invaluable.

What Krys’s Research and Preparation Process Is Like

Jerod Morris: For an individual interview, when you’ve determined you’re going to interview someone — you got into this a little bit, but I’d like to dive into it a little bit more — what is your research and preparation process like for that interview in terms of what materials you’re looking at to come up with questions? Are you writing out specific questions verbatim that you will read? How does that whole process work for you?

Krys Boyd: There’s a couple ways that it can work, depending on whether we’re working with a book as our main source material or we’re working with other things. I’ll start with the book, because it’s a little bit simpler. Most of what we do on the show is nonfiction. Part of the reason for that is because of the topics that nonfiction covers, and part of the reason is because you can skim through a nonfiction book. Although when I say skim, I’m talking a three or four-hour process.

In the afternoons I usually work from my house because I’m not distracted by wanting to read the news on the Internet or hearing what people are doing down the hall. I’ll take that book home with me — actually, often two books. I work with little sticky notes. Those little flag markers that you get when you’re signing a mortgage or something and somebody says, “Sign here,” and they put a little plastic flag. I will put anywhere from about 75 to 150 of those in a book.

What I’m looking for are things that catch my attention as I’m reading through it quite quickly. I will read very carefully and then I will look at the index of the book and make sure that I haven’t missed any important topics that are covered there. I also like to look at articles and interviews that have been written about either the author or the book to get a broader picture of things or maybe a sense for what other people are talking about with regard to this material. On that material, I just write all over it. I’ll have 12 or 15 pages printed out of notes and articles and resources and I’ll scribble notes all over it that only I can read, because I have terrible handwriting.

That will sit there for a few days. Then, on the morning that I’m doing the interview, I write the introductions for the guests — actually the day before. On the morning of the interview, I write the questions. I do think of them in a particular order. I know that I want to lead the interview in a particular direction, so the first question that I write is almost always the first question that I will ask in the interview.

The last question that summarizes things is often something that I’ve written to go right there. Within the interview itself, depending on what the guest has to say, I might change where they go in the interview. The questions are just a thought exercise for me. I don’t tend to read them off the page to the guest. But going through that exercise, writing those things out tells me that I’ve given the work enough thought that I have covered all the material that I need to understand to ask questions to lead the audience through this material that I have spent hours preparing for.

Jerod Morris: There was a great article about you in the Dallas Observer — I’m going to link to it in the show notes — it includes this quote. You said, “I feel like it’s a bad show if I didn’t learn something new, because that means we didn’t go somewhere uncharted.” I love that quote. I know folks that I’ve talked to who are conducting interviews, especially conducting interviews early on in their career, they can have trouble living in the moment of the interview — not just going down their questions — being able to ad lib and let a conversation go. How do you do that? How do you balance your research and your preparation with living in the moment of the interview and following interesting threads that you may not have even anticipated?

How Krys Balances Research and Preparation with Living in the Moment of an Interview

Krys Boyd: I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s a conversation with another human being. If that sounds overly simplistic, I apologize, but it’s true. Sometimes we’re working so hard to get good information that it can be easy to forget that it’s me connecting with you, Jerod. We’re two people. You have an objective with this interview, but you’re talking to me like a person.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Krys Boyd: Everybody responds to that. Whether they’re talking about the wonkiest possible subject, or whether they’re talking about a memoir of their own lives, people want to feel like they are listened to. Once you can relax and let yourself listen to the answers rather than thinking about what you have to say next, I feel like it really changes your interviewing in a fundamental way.

Quite frankly, it takes a while for everybody, because you start out doing interviews and you know that it’s a question and answer session. After a little bit of time, you get more comfortable and you realize that you’ve got this — it’s just a conversation with a person. They probably want to tell you this information and you want to learn it. It really helps to relax, but the listening portion of it is 100 percent the most important thing.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I usually have a co-host on this show, and I know he’s listening now. I guarantee you he cheered when you said, “Talk to people like a human being. Remember that it’s a human being.” He does an interview show — he’s done over 300 interviews on his show.

Krys Boyd: Wow.

Jerod Morris: That is his number one piece of advice, just be human. Treat people like a human, talk to people like it’s a human being, and listen. We absolutely echo that advice. And you’re right, it can take a little while to get there. But with patience and with practice and with a commitment to doing it, it will make your interviews so much better.

I’m interested in some of your stories, because interviewing as many people as you have over the years, I know that you have to have had some that truly stick out. I’m wondering if you will tell us about the time when you were the most pleasantly surprised after an interview.

Some of Krys’s Best (and Worst) Interviews

Krys Boyd: Sometimes it’s just a matter of chemistry. Suddenly you discover that you absolutely adore talking to someone who is notable for some important reason. Thinking back, I suppose I could have anticipated enjoying this interview. Sister Helen Prejean is an activist against the death penalty. I didn’t go into the interview with any particular sensibility about this, and it didn’t necessarily change the way I felt one way or another, but she was such a lovely warm person.

I was expecting her to be a passionate advocate, but in fact she was a human being and someone that you could very much relate to. Someone whose empathy was really extraordinary. I feel like having that experience with her gave me a sense of how she’s able to do this work and, in her case, find the humanity in people who have done absolutely horrific things. Whether you agree with her work or you disagree with it, it’s a really amazing quality. That was a really nice surprise.

Jerod Morris: What about the flip side of that? Have you ever conducted an interview and afterwards said to yourself, “Oh my goodness, that was a disaster?”

Krys Boyd: Usually if it’s a disaster I consider it my fault, but some people are certainly easier to interview than others. I’m not going to name names here, but I interviewed a very well known luminary in the arts. I’ve interviewed her a couple of times. The first time I interviewed her … She’s known for being difficult. She doesn’t particularly like to be interviewed. I don’t know why she says yes, but she prides herself on giving journalists a hard time.

I knew this about her and I had prepared and prepared and prepared. She would answer things with lightning speed and then just give you this cold stare. Fortunately, I was ready with an answer, with another question, or with a comment after she stopped speaking each time. She said to me in the first break — because we have two breaks throughout the show — she said, “Well, you’re doing all right. You’re ready to go whenever I stop talking.” I took that as high praise, and then she relaxed a little bit and let me ask her some things that frankly, were difficult.

I asked questions about the ways that she was aging and her body was changing. They were hard questions to confront, and because I was able to establish trust it worked out okay. I realized that about halfway in I felt like — I don’t know if you’re a skier, but it’s like skiing down a black diamond hill when you really should be on the bunny slopes. Once you realize you’re not going to die, it becomes the most exhilarating thing in the world. I always care about how an interview turns out, but every interview is just one interview. If it’s not going well, I’m going to do my level best to help the guest come through and make their points, but I feel like the audience can tell if I’ve done my homework and the guest just doesn’t want to be there.

Jerod Morris: How do you prepare for an interview like that, that you know is going to be difficult? Do you dive in more to more material? Do you write out more questions beforehand?

Krys Boyd: I try to get a sense of who the person is and why they don’t like talking to journalists. Fortunately, a lot of people who come on our show have something that they want to talk about, so it’s not very difficult. I try to get a sense of them as a person and I try to communicate early in the interview with my questions and the way I ask them that I’m very much interested in what they have to say. That I am not here to use them to prove a point. I’m here as, honestly, a vessel for them to get their point across to the audience. I’m just a guide that sets them in a position and lets them go. I’m going to ask a question here and there. I’m going to ask to clarify. I’m going to challenge sometimes. But all in service of letting them communicate what it is they’re passionate about to my audience.

Jerod Morris: One note I forgot to clarify earlier, your interviews, are most of them done in person in a studio, or are your guests remote, typically?

Krys Boyd: It’s about half and half. If people come in town, we are delighted to have them in studio, but we also use a technology that allows a person to be in a remote studio at a radio station somewhere across the country or across the world. The sound quality is exactly as if they are three feet away from me, but they might be far away. I would say it’s about half and half.

Jerod Morris: Do you notice a difference in the intimacy level of the interviews when you’re not sitting across from the person, when you can’t see them?

Krys’s Strategies for Making Guests Comfortable and Willing to Open Up

Krys Boyd: It all depends. If people are nervous if they haven’t been interviewed a lot in the past, it’s really nice to be able to make eye contact and let them see you looking at them, nodding your head. Not necessarily nodding because you agree with the content, but saying, “I hear you. I’m paying attention and we get what you’re trying to say.” That two minutes of chit-chat that you get in the studio before we go live is really helpful.

For very experienced people, there’s not too much difference. Occasionally when someone has not been interviewed a lot and they’re remote, I can feel them come into the second segment notably more relaxed than they were at first because they know what’s happening here. They know that it’s really about their ideas, and I think they can trust me a little bit more after that.

Jerod Morris: If you’re sensing that in the first part of an interview, like you’re sensing a little trepidation on their part or they’re not totally comfortable, is there anything that you’ve found that you can do to help make them a little bit more comfortable?

Krys Boyd: Yeah, sometimes it’s about being sure that I don’t crowd them, that I give them space to finish their thoughts. I wouldn’t do this with a politician whose job it is to respond to difficult questions regardless, but if it’s someone who is talking about research that they’ve done and they sound very nervous, if I have a confrontational question to ask them, sometimes I’ll phrase it like this, “You know that there are people who think that what you’re saying doesn’t make any sense, so how would you explain it to someone like that?” Rather than turning myself into their enemy. You don’t want to do too much of that. Again, I very much consider myself a journalist, but there are ways to get the same answer without putting someone on the defensive.

Jerod Morris: That’s a great tip right there. What else do you do in terms of preparing the person beforehand? As you and I were getting ready for this interview, I sent you over some questions and topics that I thought would be good to discuss. Is that something that you typically do with people that you’re interviewing?

Krys Boyd: It’s funny Jerod, because I appreciated that you sent those over, but we never do it.

Jerod Morris: Really?

Krys Boyd: I’ll tell you why. We don’t ambush anybody. We don’t say we want to talk to you about your new book but instead we ask you about your divorce or something. That’s not the kind of show we do. We’re usually happy to give people an outline of what we want to talk about, and we try not to pull any punches. There may be a surprise or two, but it’s not intentional.

The reason that I don’t give specific pre-interview questions is that, again, particularly for people who have not been interviewed a lot, they get those questions and they say, “Okay, great. This is what Jerod’s going to ask me about. I’m going to go through these.” They craft answers in their head — without realizing they’re doing it maybe.

They decide on the perfect answers and then they get distracted trying to reproduce in a live interview what they wrote out that night, the morning before, or something. It actually causes it to feel less natural than if we just say, “We just want to talk to you about your techniques when you interview people, a little bit about your preparation schedule, that sort of thing,” so that they can feel comfortable with where we’re going but won’t have prepared a statement.

Jerod Morris: Got you. More like what I did in the first email, rather than the follow-up with specific questions listed.

Krys Boyd: Exactly. Again, they both worked for me. But if you have someone who doesn’t get interviewed a lot, it’s something you might want to think about.

Krys’s Hypothetical Class About Interviewing: What She Would Teach on the First Day and Who She Would Choose as Guest Lecturer(s)

Jerod Morris: Yeah, okay, great. A couple more questions on interviewing. Let’s say that you were teaching a class on interviewing, what would you teach on the very first day?

Krys Boyd: I would talk first about listening. It really is the most important part of an interview, and I can hear you doing it based on the questions that you’re asking me. For some people it comes very naturally, and for other people for whom it’s natural in a regular conversation, an interview seizes them up and causes them just to go for facts. People like that have to take a step back and listen to some interviews and figure out why some work and some don’t.

The next thing I might do, honestly, is think about different kinds of interviews, because there are lots of different things you want to achieve. The way that I speak with a novelist is going to be very different from the way that I speak with a neuroscientist. That’s very different from the way that I speak with a politician, and different again from the way that I speak with someone who has written a memoir. You’re looking to achieve the same thing, even though the format of an hour-long interview with someone is ostensibly the same. The tone is different, the objectives are different. I’m not just looking to collect a bunch of facts, I’m looking to explore ideas, and there are different ways you can get at all of those things with those different individuals.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. I appreciate what you said about my own listening. I can say that that is not something that I come by naturally. I struggled a lot when I was first doing interviews. I would write out every single question, and if I deviated a little bit from where I wanted to go I wasn’t able to function well inside of the interviews. For anybody who is listening, if you’re just starting out or if you’ve only done a few interviews — reps and practice. It gets better. It gets easier. It gets more natural as you do it. I absolutely second that, that it’s such an important skill to have for interviewing.

Krys Boyd: That’s a great point. I think people who’ve been doing it a long time make it seem like it just comes off the top of their heads and do everything we can to hide all the preparation that goes into it, but the practice is essential. There came a time when I realized that no matter what went wrong in the course of an interview, I could easily talk to somebody for an hour. Once I felt that way, it loosens up something inside your soul and you can just relax and be in the moment.

If someone has said something and you didn’t plan to talk about that at all, but it’s so interesting, instead of thinking after the interview, “I wish that I’d known more about that,” you just stop and say, “Hold on a second here. You just said this thing, and I want to go there for a minute.” It’s fine. Usually people are delighted that you’ve picked up on something.

Jerod Morris: Okay, back to this hypothetical class on interviewing that you’re going to teach. Who would be your number one choice for a guest lecturer?

Krys Boyd: I love this question, because I had to think a lot about it. I would actually — people can go and watch, listen to, or even read great interviews and study them that way. I would bring in people who interview for different reasons. I might bring in a police detective who asks questions with one objective in a certain way. Then I’d bring in a psychologist who is trying to understand people in a very different way. Then I might bring in a historian who is trying to put together what happened at a moment in recent history where the parties are still alive. Maybe even a doctor who is asking questions trying to understand something about a patient.

All of those things may seem to have nothing in common with doing an interview for a podcast about graphic design or a podcast about current events or whatever, but those are all different ways that we communicate with this question and answer format that can remind you that there are lots of different ways to get it done. The perfect way for me to do things may not be perfect for you, or may not be perfect for my favorite interviewer ever. I’m a fan of Mark Merritt. He and I do things very differently, but I don’t feel like I have to copy him to think that he does great things and to occasionally pull an idea from his very casual style of talking with people.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Wow, that’s a really interesting answer, I wasn’t expecting you to take it in that direction. That was great. Just a couple last questions. I want to be respectful of your time. You’ve interviewed tons and tons of people, who is still on your interview bucket list?

Who is Still on Krys’s Interview Bucket List?

Krys Boyd: I’m always interested in people that we think we know very well but don’t. Certainly, political luminaries that are known all over the world are interesting, but they’re often very guarded because they have an agenda and they think of the interview as a chance to get out what they want to get out, whereas I think of it as a chance to get to know this person. My list changes week to week.

I’m often interested in people who are experts in their subject but are not necessarily famous. Someone who has done really fascinating research and talks about their process is always interesting to me. For years and years I was really interested in talking with Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the Clintons, because thinking about what it’s like to grow up in that fishbowl that the White House was … I think the same about the Bush girls and the Obama girls. I don’t know that they would be any less guarded than their parents, but a million people have interviewed their fathers — and in the case of Hillary Clinton, their mothers — but I would just like to know what those individuals are like behind closed doors.

Jerod Morris: My last question for you, what is your criteria for success for an interview? Do you feel it’s successful when the interview is done and you feel like you’ve conducted a good interview, or does the way that the audience interacts and responds to it, does that influence your thought on whether the interview worked or was successful?

Krys’s Success Criteria for an Interview

Krys Boyd: I’m always thinking about the audience, for sure, and I want to know that the interview made sense to them. If they came to the topic with no preparation, I want to know that it made sense. I suppose I feel like the most successful interviews are where a member of the audience thought, “I don’t care very much about this topic. I’ll just listen for a minute or two.” If I’ve kept them listening for the entire hour, then I think it worked. I care about the guest’s experience as well. My job is to make a radio program, but I want the guest to feel understood, treated fairly, and respected. But also to feel challenged and to feel like they have had to answer some things, to think about some things that they haven’t been asked in other interviews.

Jerod Morris: It’s interesting that you mention that, because my wife and I on numerous occasions after listening to one of your shows have been walking and talking about something and ju

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