I have one of those listening faces that says ‘Tell Me Everything’.
This is great for storytelling and interviewing because it means that people trust me enough to share their story. If people trust you enough to share interviewing will be easy.
You’ve probably watched plenty of interviews and read hundreds of articles and wondered if you could interview like a pro yourself.
Journalists and writers certainly make the craft of writing a story look easy and you probably think that you can easily do this. It’s slightly harder than just typing a few sentences out but definitely achievable with a few tips and a little patience.
Always remember when writing – all you really need to know and think about when writing (after the interview or for any piece of writing) is this
Am I taking the reader on a journey worth going on?
If you think you can nail the journey part then use these tips and practise:
Getting the Interview!
Don’t Ask, Don’t Get. If you want to interview someone you just have to ask. My last interview was with Peter Cundall at the Tamar Valley in Tasmania.
Peter is former presenter of ABC’s Gardening Australia, a conservationist, horticulturist and even has an Order of Australia. At 89 years old he rarely takes interviews and is difficult to contact direct. I went through three different people to finally secure a 20 minute interview at his property.
Research and Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Do research on your subject and write down the main points in the article. Write a brief outline of your questions and practice the questions with someone.
It’s important. I normally record the interview so I can fact check it later. If this is an ‘in person’ interview suggest a café or an office area where you can hear!
Keep Calm and LISTEN
Sometimes I get nervous before an interview. This can affect listening so you must, must, must do meditation or whatever it is you do to be calm before an interview.
Listening is more important than anything else because if you aren’t engaged and listening then your interviewee will not engage either. Even more important
if you don’t actively listen you’ll make your job harder
I suggest that you don’t take notes during interviews (unless it’s on the phone). Record instead and go back over what you’ve heard.
Conversational Works Best
Keep it informal. The best interviewers keep it informal and conversational.
I have a problem where people tell me too much, they over-share, this is difficult when writing the piece. If this happens, I remind that we are short on time and I jump to the next question (without being impolite).
Writing the Article
Now the fun part – writing! You’ve nailed all the questions and they’ve been answered in conversational style which you need to turn into an article people want to read.
I always start with answering the questions. Next, I craft the article to suit the audience, style, tone and content distribution purpose. I set this out at the top of the page. Also include quotes which match your main points.
Then it’s a matter of filling in the blanks and writing. Don’t give everything away in the first paragraph, drip feed the information and keep the reader wanting more.
You need at least 24 hours to sleep on it to edit your copy before submission. If you are operating through a PR agency, news outlet or similar it’s important that you use their template or style guide before submission.
If you need help with interviewing or article writing, get in contact.
Happy to help you craft compelling content.
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