I’m currently preparing slide decks for both the Milton Keynes International Festival and the Digital Wine Communicators Conference. In both instances I’ve been asked if I can talk on Networked Storymaking with a focus on interview techniques.
This is interesting as if I’m honest it’s not something I’ve thought about in depth.
Until now that is.
I have over one and a half thousand recordings on my Audioboo channel, many of them are impromptu interviews/conversations grabbed in the moment after bumping into someone I found interesting.
I prefer interviewing people in audio over video, mainly as audio tends to take less post production. Or as in 99% of my archived recordings, zero post production, outside of titles, tags and uploading.
With audio it’s quicker and easier to edit long conversations short, and the more relaxed your interview style, the easier it is to relax your subject, so they forget the mic is there.
I find there are two main types of interview.
Profile: An in-depth look at a subject and their life.
News: The gathering of information around an event, idea or occurrence.
In both of these cases, following four simple steps can really help you get the job done.
1. Research and prepare.
2. Establish a rapport
3. Pose relevant questions that trigger conversation.
4. Listen, watch and respond.
I have gone into more detail on these points in the following audio.
Preparation will assist you in building rapport, give you confidence and install confidence in your subject. It will also enable you to plan a line of questioning.
As regards the questioning. Try to avoid statements unless you are building initial rapport or setting the scene in order to fill in the subjects background.
Open ended questions leading with a Who, What, Why, Where and How will tease out stories and make it harder for yes and no answers. A well thought out question will have your subject doing all the legwork.
That said, be willing to drop any prepared questions in order to just ‘go with the flow’. For me the aim is to take the listener on a journey as the story unfolds.
If I have bumped into someone I find interesting and want to remember the moment, the meeting, find out more from them and tap their passion, I’ll often just click record on a phone app and go for it.
The three simple steps I find that work best for the impromptu interview are:
1. Set the scene.
2. Start a conversation that takes the listener on a journey.
3. Wrap up with a sign off mentioning further resources.
So as you can see there are a number or paths toward getting an engaging interview. Above all though just be ready to capture a conversation. A conversation with open questions treading the path you’d like to follow. You don’t want to miss the moment thinking too much about what to say and where to say it. When the opportunity arises, stay curious and interested. You are well versed in having conversations. Practice capturing them in audio (or video) and you’ll find them seamlessly turning into interviews.
I’m @Documentally on twitter. Please feel free to ask me anything there or in the comments below.
To finish, here is an Audioboo Playlist containing some random interviews..
Ian McKendrick says
Great article Christian, you’ve shared some brilliant advice here. It’s almost the same recipe I’ve been using to interview fellow artists on my Watercolour Journey blog. Being prepared to drop planned questions to go with the flow is a must, and it nearly always leads you to where some of the biggest nuggets of gold are hiding. From my radio interviewing days I picked up the “Pearls of wisdom” to use as an ending to the interview, where you give the interviewee chance so show off their subject knowledge.
Many thanks for sharing, we must catch up soon, hopefully at the Station X event 21st July and maybe I’ll get the chance to update you on my CDII hyper-realistic retro-tech art project.