Can a live interview make a difference at your conference, trade show or meeting?

Yes, it can!

You start, of course, with a good guest, someone who’s appealing with an interesting story to tell, and one that’s relevant to the audience.

But just as important is the person conducting the interview.

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years as an energy journalist anchoring the TV show “Platts Energy Week,” co-hosting the “Columbia Energy Exchange” podcast, and conducting interviews for business meetings in the U.S. and abroad.

And while I don’t pretend to be an expert on public speaking, I’ve learned enough from hundreds of sit-downs with CEOs, government officials, authors and others to give an audience a good run for their time.

I’ve also seen how a live interview with a prominent guest can give a meeting planner a show-like option for events, one that provides both flair and insight.

What makes an interviewer effective?

To begin with, he or she should have the experience, knowledge and demeanor to enable a compelling discussion.

But there are five other steps I keep in mind every time I prepare for an interview:

  • Do the homework necessary to understand the guest and the topic at hand;
  • Reach out to the guest ahead of time to establish a reasonable comfort level;
  • Keep questions brief and listen for possible follow-ups;
  • Put my own opinions aside; and
  • Cultivate an atmosphere where audience questions will be welcome.

I still love a great interview, like my conversation with Lynn Good, the chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E Summit outside Washington. Before an audience of several hundred people, we explored the challenges facing a rapidly changing electric power market, considered the pros and cons of various options for her utility and, perhaps most importantly, lay the ground work for a vigorous round of questions and comments from the conference hall.

Regardless of the type of meeting, there are countless opportunities for such conversations.

Let me know if I can conduct one for your next event!