• 24 Apr - 30 Apr, 2021
  • Alina Qamar
  • Interview

Nitasha Syed, a Pakistani-Canadian human dynamo, is a Senior Product Manager with a software engineering background and also an ascending digital talk show host. She is based in Silicon Valley, USA, where she has started her own digital talk show titled as, Shaam Ki Chai, where she highlights the achievements of Pakistani diaspora all over the world. She has interviewed Pakistanis from all around the globe and her upcoming episodes for the season will also feature MMA fighter Bashir Ahmed and ace designer-turned-actor HSY. The hostess proves that when it comes to being a great talk show host, having a strategy and giving it a lot of thought can take you further than simply being great on camera. So, if you’re considering starting an original talk show (and even being the host!) at your own company, read on to hear from Nitasha Syed as she shares her approach to interviewing guests and much more. Excerpts follow:

Icebreaker! Introduce us to Nitasha Syed. Who is Nitasha other than being an entrepreneur, a product manager and a successful digital talk show host?

Nitasha is the daughter of two immigrant Pakistani parents that moved to Canada in the late 80’s. She’s grown up balancing both her identities as a Canadian and a Pakistani. Aside from being a self-proclaimed expert in 90’s pop culture, she’s also deeply passionate about changing the way women are portrayed in the media. It’s obviously every parent’s dream to birth a child that questions the way the world works and boy, did she live up to that persona; especially when it came to the expectations put on south Asian women by society or the oppressive narratives that are told to us in the media. With both her left and right brain working about million miles an hour every day, you can expect her (at any given moment) to be learning the latest TikTok dance, mentoring young girls that want to get into tech or learning about how blockchain can be applied to prevent counterfeit drugs from being sold in pharmacies.

Every talk show host has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, but in your opinion, what are some of the must-have qualities of a successful host?

Being a talk show host is a lot like playing a game. You have a clear goal in mind, by the end of the interview, you want your guest to have touched on specific topics, told certain stories, and allowed themselves to become vulnerable. A successful host needs to start off their conversation knowing exactly where they want it to end and the rest of the interview is a series of prompts that are meant to get you to your desired goal.

It seems like making your guest feel comfortable and relaxed is super important for a talk show host. How do you go about making your guests feel less nervous as you interview them?

I always do pre-interviews that help shake off any nerves a guest may have. It gives the guest a taste of what the real interview will be like, and sets expectations of the conversations and allows them to become more familiar with me. A 30-minute conversation before the camera starts rolling can make a difference in the energy between you and your guest.

We’ve been talking pretty broadly about interviews. But, we would love to know what’s been your favourite part of hosting your show, Shaam Ki Chai, in particular?

Meeting new people and seeing the amazing work Pakistanis are doing around the world. Pakistan always gets a bad rep in international media and although, it’s a young country with a lot of problems to overcome, it’s nice to shed some positive light on it and really look at the impact Pakistanis are making in their communities.

Now, show creation isn’t without its challenges. What have you found to be the most challenging part of filming Shaam Ki Chai?

When a brand is in its early stages, the way Shaam ki Chai is, infinite resources are definitely not at your fingertips. I do have people that are helping me with creation, editing and distribution but I don’t have a huge set and team of people running around checking lighting, camera angles, sound quality etc – it’s just me for now. Having no experience in filming or journalism you’re learning everything in the moment without anyone on set to actually guide you and that is definitely a huge learning curve.

Sounds like you’ve learned a lot as a new talk show host! What piece(s) of advice do you have for someone who wants to make a show for their business?

You don’t need a lot of capital or fancy equipment to create something. The camera quality on phones has gotten so much better over the years that sometimes even your phone is sufficient to film in the early stages of your show. If you can learn to create and distribute content consistently, you will eventually grow to a point where you can afford a huge production. Until then, use what you have, make sure the audio and picture quality is clean and just get your content out there. •