It's a simple rule. And I am going to give it away in the first line itself. Here it goes. Trivias are not questions.
Let's say you know that the person you are interviewing likes Caffè Americano. It's their favorite kind of coffee to have. You know this because, well, you follow them on Instagram. You know eight other trivias like this about the other person. It's the part of your 'research'. You saw endless interviews and made notes of the things they like or do not like, the things they hate or do not hate.
Now comes the big interviewing day. The guest has joined you. You are confident because you have done your homework. And you hit them up with a -- "hey, I know you like Caffè Americano, can you tell us what exactly made you fall in love with this coffee?".
This is where things go wrong and most people do not realise it. It might be a well researched question but without even realising it, you just creeped your guest out. You have made sure that they now treat the rest of the interview/podcast as an interaction with a fan without actually 'connecting' with you.
There is nothing wrong with the question. It's just the way you asked it. It's too direct. It lacks subtlety. And it shows overexcitement. All the perfect ingredients to repel the guest from having an organic conversation with you.
I get the idea behind asking the guest about Caffè Americano. You asked it because you were sure that it is one topic they will talk passionately about. Great, so why not change the approach to get the same results?
Lead them to a point where they feel comfortable enough to speak about their favorite coffee. For example, I would have started talking about how I like a lot of milk and a lot of sugar in my Cappuccino - because that's exactly how I like my coffee. This becomes an in-point for coffee lovers and they would try to tell you how maybe you can try this different kind of coffee which doesn't have milk in it and what are its benefits. And that is where they will talk about Caffè Americano.
I have learnt this technique over the years and it always leads to better conversations. Few weeks back, I had a guest episode with someone and while reading a little about her, I got to know that she and I shared the same day of birth.
I got excited when I read it but I did not want to put it out so blatantly.
So during our interview, came a point where we started talking about sun signs and that lead to the point where my guest got very excited because she had just got to know my day of birth.
The thing with trivias is that -- they are always secondary. I always use them as catalysts or ice-breakers so that I can get the guest off the auto-pilot mode.
There are more podcast creators than podcast listeners today. These small things always give you an edge over the others because you are learning not to rush with topics, embrace the silences and being fluid with the whole conversation.
You should also be prepared for the situation where the guest might themselves reveal that they like Caffè Americano. And let's say, in this case, if you also like the same coffee, don't rush into telling them that. Hold. Let them enjoy talking about it. Hold some more. And when they are done, you can tell them about your favorite Caffè Americano place. That will lead to something beautiful. I was once doing a guest episode with Gulshan Devaiah and I asked him which are his favorite TV shows. He said that there is this one show called Better Call Saul which he in love with. He spoke at length about it. Every molecule in my body wanted to cut him to tell him what that show meant to me. But I did not jump. My mind told me - hold. Hold. Hold. And when he completed his thoughts, I added, Gulshan I have had the creator of Better Call Saul as the guest for the 100th episode on Chalchitra Talks. His reaction was what made it worth it. It lead to a beautiful conversation. Simply because I did not rush into telling him that I liked Caffè Americano too!