How to craft better questions and have damn good conversations with Joe Ferraro

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Episode Summary

In this episode, you get an opportunity to meet Joe Ferraro, an impressive high school English teacher, Founder of Damn Good Conversations and the host of The One Percent Better Podcast.

Considering Joe has a lot on his plate, what do all of these roles have in common and how do they help him have good conversations? To cite Joe, “It’s a combination of curiosity and energy.”

Joe has been a fan of conversations ever since he was ten years old. He listened to the local journalists asking questions after games and loved the work the reporters were doing. These jobs inspired him to embrace podcasting, become one percent better at it, bring his dream guests on the show, and sometimes, leave his comfort zone.

What actually fuels a damn good conversation and helps create a great podcast episode?

Joe believes that a well-defined intent and purpose are prerequisites for a good podcast. As “America’s Podcasting Coach”, Joe advises his clients to ask themselves what they want to accomplish with a podcast and who it’s ultimately trying to help.

Tune in to uncover how Joe crafts conversations with prominent guests like Seth Godin, how he avoids small talk and why high velocity questions are a great way to start a podcast.

Guest Profile

Key Insights

MYTH: The podcast host’s job is to ask a question and get out of the way.”

Joe Ferraro


Damn Good Conversations

Episode Highlights

Eye Contact Is Important, But It’s Also Overrated

“My two-time guest named Tim Pollard wrote a book called ‘Mastering the Moment,’ and he’s gotta be one of the premier public speaking teachers in the world. He told me that eye contact was overrated when it comes to delivering a speech. That’s stuck in my brain because we are growing up programmed to think you stare at someone, you look in their soul, and that’s what people want.

If you go back to look at Oprah Winfrey, Joe Rogan, or some of the great interviewers, they’re looking up like this – When they ask their question, they come back, and then they’re looking down. There’s unconventional wisdom that these conversations are able to unearth.”

Zero Question vs. Six Question Method

In a recent Twitter conversation, Joe and Tristan discussed the process for interviewing. Some folks like to show up with zero questions. And others like to be prepared. “It’s impossible for me to define what zero questions would mean. Because if I ran into Phil Hellmuth in the grocery store, I might give him his privacy. But I’m going to have some questions for him.” 

Joe also mentioned how he’s open to experimentation and pointed out how some podcasters have a different strategy. “I was lucky enough to be a guest on a recent podcast where they asked the guests the same six questions every day. That was his formula. I was prepared for the six questions. It’s not the show I want to run, but I was honored to be on it. So, if someone wants to ask me six questions, I’ll shake their hand.”

Being Comfortable with the Title of “America’s Podcasting Coach”

“I am not comfortable enough with that title yet. Marketing is a reality, and I do have some clients I’m coaching, and they’re paying me to do so. And it’s working. But if I told my high school friends that I’m considering myself America’s Podcasting Coach, they would make fun of me with expletives.

Get outside your comfort zone, whether you like it or not, as long as you can, be authentic, claim it, and say, ‘Hey, I’m doing the very best I can to help people.’ And that’s where we are with America’s Podcasting Coach.”

High-Velocity Questions vs. the “Tell Me More About Yourself” Approach

“Often, the first question of a podcast will be, ‘Hey, before we get started, just tell the listeners a little bit about your story.’ I’ve done enough podcasts. I know the scope of how long we have. If I’m a pro, I can reel that in. I could theoretically give you a 35-minute answer to that question. And now we’ve started with awkwardness because the host can’t get in.

That first question is not the only time hosts use a high-velocity question, but I think it’s the best time. You asked about connecting my life to teaching, which people will notice immediately. Now people know I’m a podcast host and a teacher, two things you wanted to highlight today.”

Conversations are Heightened Forms of Relationships We Have with Our Friends and Family

“I’m 43, my dad’s 73, and he’s the best man at my wedding. He and I are very close, but we don’t have damn good conversations all the time in real life. And when I gave him the microphone and sat kneecap to kneecap, I saw it firsthand. That was my dad. People that listened to that show have been like, ‘I want to meet your dad. Your dad seems like such a great guy.’ And he is. And I believe that. And the reason you think that is because you heard that conversation, which was a heightened form of our relationship.

You put all these beautiful ingredients in a boiling pot, and the impurities come up, and all the weak flavors go away. A good way to think about it is as a rich, thick balsamic vinegar. The viscosity is so great at the end. That’s what I’m trying to do in these conversations. We’re going to leave something on the cutting room floor, but all that’s left is the real good consumable juice. And I think that’s what you heard in that episode.”