Art of the Interview, Part 2

Try not to think of it as an interview.  Think of it as a conversation.  And let the other person do most of the talking.

It used to kill me, back when I was still watching TV news, to see a bobbleheaded reporter nodding along with everything the interview subject has to say.  As if to say to the person, “Wow, you are endlessly fascinating.  This is the most riveting exchange I’ve ever had with another human.  Please tell me more.”  Phony nodding is cloying and, in my opinion, a clear indication of a lack of respect.  Feh!

But back to the larger point.  So what’s the diff between a conversation and an interview? My sense is that, with one, you’re seeking specific pieces of information.  You get the information, you’re done.  Stick a fork in you.

With the other, you’re riding the current wherever it leads – and it almost always leads to some very interesting places you couldn’t possibly have ever imagined. You can still get the information you’re after, but you’ll get a whole lot of other stuff that will make the result of your encounter, whatever form it might take, much richer and far more compelling.  Not to mention that whatever you find might lead you to an entirely different story than you set out to get – and that’s always a good thing.

To review, interviews tend to be linear and lead to preordained destinations.  Conversations flutter, flit, swoop and swerve.  You never know what you’ll get.  Doesn’t that sound like more fun?  Doesn’t that seem more engaging?  Because if you’re engaged, the chances are, so will your readers.

Thanks for your attention.  You’re dismissed until we convene again next time.