You’re reading an excerpt of Stop Asking Questions, by Andrew Warner, a veteran podcast host of 2000+ episodes. The book explains how to lead high-impact interviews and learn anything from anyone. Master the craft of interviewing with this complete digital package. Purchase now for lifetime access to the book and extensive audio and video resources.

Grab Attention Fast

Movie producers use billboards to get people into theaters to watch their films. Few podcasts have the luxury of that kind of budget. Instead, listeners use the first few seconds of each episode to decide whether or not it’s worth their time.

Just how important is your opening? Reality set in for many podcasters when Anchor, the podcast creation app, gave its creators second-by-second analytics for each episode. When podcasters looked at their graphs, many saw big drop-offs in listenership just moments after their podcasts started. Some lost over half their listeners within a minute. As NPR producer Nick Fountain said, β€œIf you don’t hook people in within the first minute, you’re screwed.”

This isn’t just true for podcasters. The principle applies to nearly every medium. In our attention-starved world, the first few seconds of any content are the most important.

Interviewers don’t have traditional billboards, but we still need creative ways to capture and keep our audience’s interest. Here are four billboard techniques you can use.

Billboard #1: The Why

The easiest way to introduce an interview is by telling listeners why you chose the interviewee and why you think it’s important for them to listen. I used this opening with Tara Reed, founder of Apps Without Code, which teaches entrepreneurs to build software without programming.

I introduced her by saying that I spent years rejecting listener suggestions for me to interview her. Frankly, I didn’t believe good apps could be built without code. But then I tried no-code tools for myself and realized how big the possibilities were. Later I discovered that Tara had raised money from Silicon Valley investors for a software company built entirely without code. Finally, I decided I had to interview her. I had a responsibility to help non-developers in my audience understand this new way of building software companies.

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