If Stephen Colbert ran a contest and drew your name randomly to be the host for one show, would you do it? Could you do it? Stephen Colbert is probably one of the smoothest, most articulate, most relaxed conversationalists on TV today. Could you slip into his shoes and interview a movie star, an athlete, and a politician, without having an anxiety attack?
Let’s face it, for most of us that would be a tall order. Doing what Colbert does takes years if not decades of practice, trial and error, and real show experience. But the simple truth is, you could! You might not believe that now, but with enough preparation and the right mindset, you could do it.
So, let’s get you prepared.
Mindset: The goal of any social conversation is to build a relationship. Sometimes you know it may only be a short-term relationship, but with others you’re looking for a long-term relationship. Face-to-face conversations are the connectors that glue together the continuity of any relationship. You build the layers of a relationship slowly, surely, conversation by conversation, so make each one count
Do your homework: Assuming you know who your guests will be on the Colbert show, do your homework. Study their careers, what they’ve accomplished, what their family situation is and names, and what awards they’ve won. People appreciate it when you demonstrate you care about them and know all about them.
Make some notes and keep them in front of you: Colbert does this. You will see him going back-and-forth from making eye contact and talking to the person, and then turning to look down at his notes so he can stay on track during the interview. So can you!
Stand up tall and walk forward to greet your guest with a smile: Colbert does this and this is just plain old Civility 101. But I wouldn’t suggest giving the guest a hug and a kiss, it’s a little early for that.
Introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m John Smith, I’m a teacher from Chicago, and I won this crazy contest to host the show. I’m nervous as hell, so please bear with me and thank you so much for coming!” There are so many good things going on in this moment. You’re forthright, you’re proud of who you are, you’re painfully honest, and your gracious in your thank you. The guest will probably give YOU a hug!
Kick off the conversation with a good question: You should have a few questions written down on your notes that will invite the guest to talk about their latest and greatest. It’s no secret that guests come on the show to promote their work, so get them started with a good question because people fundamentally love to talk about themselves.
Thank you and goodbye: When it’s time to wrap up the interview, give your guest a smile, shake their hand, and say, “Thank you so much, I really enjoyed talking with you, and please come back to the show soon.“ Then take a long breath.
You did it!