When was the last time you got to know your ideal audience? I mean, like really got to know them.
Befriending your audience isn’t as simple as sending out a nice survey and hoping for an answer. I agree that the online survey is a good start, but you need to jump through multiple hoops to gather enough intelligence on your audience for smart content creation.
The process involves active listening.
What is active listening?
Active listening is the ability to redirect your focus from what is going on inside your head to the needs of your prospective interviewee. It’s all about them.
Read: The Key to Identify and Befriend Your Ideal Audience
When conducting human-centered interviews, you have to actively listen. The benefit is on both sides of the table. On one side, you’re able to comprehend and build a deeper understanding of the needs and concerns of the audience. If you’re able to see to their level, content creation actively becomes more focused and purposeful. On the other hand, your audience knows if you’re not ‘in it to win it.’ Interviewing is tedious and hard work for both sides. Active listening helps ensure the time is well spent — and the audience remains engaged.
Active listening benefits the interview process, but how can we take a step further with our empathy interviews?
How to conduct empathy interviews
Preparation for the interviews is only the beginning. Once the interview process begins, it becomes more important to remain human-centric in the way interviews are conducted. Here are a few suggestions.
Create a friendly atmosphere. Often times, I see customer interviews in cold and unfriendly office spaces. There is no reason not to take a current customer out to lunch or coffee to conduct an interview. As long as the space is quiet, a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere helps the interview run smoother.
Introduce yourself, then make it all about them. The interview needs context. What is the project? Why are you there? Answer the basics, then immediately turn the attention to the interviewee, because the interview is about them. How often have you been in an interview where the interviewer [Mark and Marge] dominated the conversation?
When in doubt, ask why. ‘Why’ is the magic statement for human-centered interview questions. By continuously asking why, you dig deeper and deeper into the meaning, emotions, motivations, and thinking process that leads the interviewee to come to a conclusion on their thoughts.
Human-centered interview questions
I personally believe the interview question list is never set in stone. It’s continuously evolving and improving. It’s becoming more and more human-centered as you learn how to ask better questions and ask in such a way that your audience spills the secrets. Now, I’m spilling my secrets. Below are eight interview questions I ask my audience frequently. Why frequently? Because the intelligence gathering process never ends. You need to continue to gather and befriend your audience in order to keep fulfilling their needs — and help them achieve their goals.
Here are my favorite interview questions to ask your audience.
- What keywords and search phrases do they use when searching for [topic] solution?
- When it comes to [topic], what keeps you up at night thinking about it?
- What is the biggest inhibitor in your business from reaching your goals?
- What is your biggest hairball?
- What do you obsessed about on a daily basis – and that never seems to get better?
- What is the biggest challenge you’re facing right now in the area of ….?
- What are the roadblocks you’re having right now in growing your business?
- Why are you losing business opportunities?
Start with these human-centered interview questions
Human-centered interview questions are fundamental components of human-centered digital content. I would even argue that it’s the most important component. Human-geared interview questions help you navigate to the heart and soul of your content. The process involves active listening, conducting empathy interviews, and asking the right questions of your audience.