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What Not to Do During a Podcast or Video Interview

Authenticity and truth speak louder than words

Last week, I was invited to be on someone’s podcast, which is something new for me. But, I didn’t think too much about it, because I knew the guy pretty well and we had a rapport. I didn’t prepare anything – I figured it would just be a conversation, and whatever comes out, comes out.

It was going to be taped over a video call. Of course me being in production, I started obsessing a bit over the scene, staging a nice shot so I looked good. I rearranged the room a couple times, and tested different lights and microphones.

The call was set for 4pm. My wife and kids went out so the house was quiet. I was having a great, peaceful day. I had exercised earlier and I was feeling pumped and ready to go!

Normally I’m the other side of the camera, not the subject. And I started noticing that old familiar anxiety showing its ugly head. It was only 3:30, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I tried to meditate and relax. What was renting space in my head was this idea that I was about to be interviewed as an author, like I’m supposed to be some expert!

That really messed me up. Instead of showing up for a natural conversation with a friend, I’m now worried about saying the right things. What if I screw up? What if I can’t remember the 3 steps I outlined in the book? I’ll look like an idiot and embarrass my friend who invited me on his podcast!

In spite of all my experience interviewing other people, and my mindfulness practice, here I was, full of fear and completely in my own head.

4pm came and things started off strong. I was able to put my thinking aside and just be present, answering questions and being myself. But, about halfway through I could feel my face flush and my ears turning red, a sure sign that I was beginning to panic. We had ventured into territory that I did not feel confident talking about.

What I should have done was to be honest that I didn’t have a good answer for his question. But, instead I came up with some bullshit just so I had something to say (now I know how politicians feel!) It wasn’t me, it wasn’t authentic – and my body was reacting, further compounding my anxiety, causing me to work even harder to “put on a show”.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. If only I had said, “You know, I’m not sure I can give a great answer to that question, but I can try.” That little disclaimer alone would have let some of the pressure out of my stress balloon and would have perhaps sparked a deeper conversation about it.

The rest of the interview felt like a disaster. I mentally checked out. I wasn’t present at all. I was completely in my head, replaying what I had said, judging it. He asked more questions and I did my best to give superficial answers, because I was no longer rooted, no longer in the moment.

I haven’t seen the final cut yet, so I don’t know how well it actually came across. It may have been fine. But, I have a feeling it lacks “soul”.

I believe, if the words come from beyond the mind, from a place of no-thought, from pure inspiration, then they will resonate strongly with the viewer, listener or reader. When the words just flow from a place of presence, I trust that they are right. But as soon as I get up in my head trying to script the words in real time, I kill all the life in them. They may sound good, but they lack power and emotion. They don’t make the necessary connection. And, what I really want is to transmit a feeling, not just words.

Above all, during an interview it’s critical that the two people are fully present, so that great moments flow out of true love and passion for the subject at hand. The guy who invited me on his podcast was awesome. I’m the one who checked out.

State of mind is paramount.

What would have made me more comfortable? I should have stuck to what I was absolutely confident about. Sure, I could have prepared answers to his questions in advance, but then I might have been preoccupied the whole time trying to remember my “script”. No, I want the words to flow from a place of pure inspiration and no-thought, because those words carry more power.

Header image, Dog Driving Budget Rental Moving Truck by Zen Mantis

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One Comment

  1. Maybelle Quarles Maybelle Quarles

    I laughed. I can remember the times I used to have to do “presentations” for people in law enforcement. I’d get all crazy and insecure about how much more they knew than I did, then someone reminded me that they were coming to learn what I knew that they didn’t. Eventually, I realized that I did know more about my (narrow) subject than they did and that they came to absorb the info, not judge my presentation of it. I relaxed a bit after that. (Although I was always rather pleased that they weren’t coming to arrest me!)

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