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You Can Be A Good Interviewer

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Powerpoint presentation given at Blog World Expo 2009.

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You Can Be A Good Interviewer

  1. But You Can Be a Good Interviewer! Ewan Spence www.ewanspence.com @ewanspence And Senator, You're No Johnny Carson...
  2. Introduction <ul><li>This presentation is rated 'G' </li><ul><li>General use in all media </li><ul><li>Podcast , Video casts, Written Interviews </li></ul><li>This is not a technical seminar on software </li><ul><li>Although I'll raise some points </li></ul><li>This is a practical guide for the interviewer </li><ul><li>Guide, not rules </li></ul></ul><li>The host is unfortunatly rated 'R' </li></ul>
  3. Why Am I Standing Here? <ul><li>I have been involved in Podcasting since November 2004
  4. Four regular podcasts </li><ul><li>All About Symbian Insight, The PSP Show, TPN Rock, Edinburgh Festival Fringe </li></ul><li>BAFTA (British Academy ) for Fringe coverage </li><ul><li>This year's Fringe featured more than 80 half hour interviews...
  5. ...over 25 days </li></ul></ul>
  6. My Equipment <ul><li>Sony MiniDisc </li><ul><li>Exports over USB to wave </li></ul><li>Gigavox's Levelator </li><ul><li>Normalisation, RMS leveling </li></ul><li>Audacity </li><ul><li>Wave file editing </li></ul><li>Lame </li><ul><li>MP3 encoding </li></ul></ul>
  7. What is an Interview <ul><li>A conversation between people </li><ul><li>Generally two sides </li><ul><li>The host and the guest or guests. </li></ul></ul><li>Recorded and (sometimes) edited for others.
  8. It has a direction and a purpose
  9. The focus is on the guest </li><ul><li>Given the choice between making a guest look good, or making yourself look good... choose the guest! </li></ul></ul>
  10. How Did I Learn? <ul><li>By observing and listening to others who are doing it.
  11. By building up practical experience and asking for feedback (listeners, guests, mentors)
  12. By being incredibly critical and honest when listening back to interviews </li></ul>
  13. The Bronze Rule There is no right or wrong way to do this. What I am going to do is talk with you about how I do it. Please consider this a foundation.
  14. The Silver Rule The BBC's Reithian Principles To educate... To entertain... To inform...
  15. The Golden Rule Watch lots of Johnny Carson
  16. As Constant as the Northern Star <ul><li>The guests always changed on The Tonight Show, but people kept watching </li><ul><li>The constant was Johnny Carson and his attitude. </li></ul><li>Find your own voice and be that constant. </li><ul><li>My first Fringe show was very “Home Service.”
  17. Sowerby and Luff gave me the best advice </li><ul><li>“ We've met you, where were you in the show?” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. The Rest of the Session <ul><li>Preparation </li><ul><li>Research your guest and their expertise </li></ul><li>Presentation </li><ul><li>How to conduct the interview and stay in control </li></ul><li>Post-production </li><ul><li>Putting the polish on everything. </li></ul></ul>
  19. Preparation <ul><li>What are your goals from this interview? </li><ul><li>To find out something new?
  20. To be interrogative?
  21. To discuss a topic, trend or product?
  22. To make people laugh, think, cry or call them to action? Something else? </li></ul></ul>
  23. Preparation <ul><li>What does your guest want? </li><ul><li>To promote something... </li><ul><li>A product?
  24. A show, film or appearance
  25. A cause, charitable or otherwise </li></ul><li>To reach out to an audience </li><ul><li>Build profile
  26. Pro-active marketing </li></ul><li>To put something in public domain </li></ul></ul>
  27. Preparation <ul><li>What Sort of show are you doing? </li><ul><li>Entertainment </li><ul><li>Music, revue, slam poetry, </li></ul><li>Traditional chat show </li><ul><li>Guests on their own subject
  28. Material arund the guests for collour and information </li></ul><li>Round table discussion </li><ul><li>Regular commentators and guest
  29. TwiT style </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. Preparation <ul><li>What should you research? </li><ul><li>The area/space you are talking about
  31. Your guest's personal background
  32. More depth in the area your guest wants to speak about.
  33. The competition </li><ul><li>...of your guest
  34. ... maybe of other shows </li></ul><li>Whatever people are saying about your guest </li></ul></ul>
  35. Preparation <ul><li>Where you could research </li><ul><li>Google their name! </li><ul><li>Fan sites
  36. Online discussions </li></ul><li>Wikipedia
  37. Ask them! </li><ul><li>personal blog or website, including Facebook, Twitter, etc </li></ul><li>Company website
  38. Press releases </li></ul></ul>
  39. Preparation <ul><li>Questions </li><ul><li>Sometimes asked for by PR
  40. Parry this to “areas of discussion”
  41. Can be a very rigid interview. </li></ul><li>Sparks </li><ul><li>Requires more confidence
  42. Becomes more of a conversation
  43. Allows you to diverge to interesting areas if you can keep control of the flow </li></ul></ul>
  44. Preparation <ul><li>What if you have a crush on your guest? </li><ul><li>Don't hide it
  45. Be honest
  46. Keep fawning to a minimum
  47. Do not do it on tape </li><ul><li>Unless it's funny </li></ul><li>Enjoy it! </li><ul><li>You have them to yourself for thirty minutes! </li></ul></ul></ul>
  48. Presentation <ul><li>Sort out a meeting time
  49. Have their mobile number, and a PA's number
  50. Get their early!
  51. If remote </li><ul><li>Have the tech double checked at both ends </li></ul><li>If in person </li><ul><li>Sort out some water and glasses
  52. Check environment </li></ul></ul>
  53. Presentation <ul><li>Get your guest relaxed </li><ul><li>Sit them down, remind them which show you are from, and who the audience is
  54. Let them know your editing policy </li><ul><li>Mine is let them have a second or third take if they make a mistakte
  55. But my mistakes stay on the tape (“the audience love it”) </li></ul><li>This will be something you can do by rote, but be honest and emotional </li></ul></ul>
  56. Presentation <ul><li>Is there anything that they want to talk about? </li><ul><li>Again to relax them that this is going to be easy
  57. You might have missed something
  58. Builds trust
  59. Lets them start to think ahead and plan, even in a small way
  60. Also lets them vent if they have to get something off their mind. </li></ul></ul>
  61. Presentation <ul><li>But in all this relaxing, do as little chat as possible.
  62. Any stories or anecdotes mentioned here will not 'work' in the recording. </li><ul><li>“you were telling me before we started about...”
  63. It wlil sound rehearsed
  64. Listeners are smart – something will sound wrong </li></ul></ul>
  65. Presentation <ul><li>Let's start the tape!
  66. Check your levels
  67. Check you are actually recording!
  68. Do a clapperboard like “reference” </li><ul><li>Ewan Spence, interviewing Wil Wheaton, at Blog World Expo, about “Memories of the Future” 5.30pm Friday Oct 19th </li></ul></ul>
  69. Presentation <ul><li>I always start with a softball question that I know they can answer. </li><ul><li>The only clean sheet you get!
  70. It steers the interview to the right topic
  71. It gets your voice out of the way and the guest in as soon as possible </li></ul><li>There are some circumstances when I would say the first question in advance </li><ul><li>Eg a very nervous guest. </li></ul></ul>
  72. Presentation The next question is already there, it is part of the last answer
  73. Presentation <ul><li>Be prepared to throw everything out the window if something comes up.
  74. Winging an entire interview can be stressful but immensly fun </li><ul><li>It's like jazz music if it works well </li></ul><li>Interviews should flow like a wave, with peaks and troughs </li><ul><li>Experience and practice to ride them, like surfing </li></ul></ul>
  75. Presentation <ul><li>Think two or three questions ahead </li><ul><li>Where do you want the interview to go? Go there.
  76. Don't run out of time. </li></ul><li>What question do you think your audience is screaming at their computer? Ask that!
  77. Make sure you ask the key questions or sparks </li></ul>
  78. Presentation <ul><li>Try to minimise ums and ahs
  79. Don't put words in your guests mouth </li><ul><li>This is my biggest flaw </li><ul><li>Which I cover by turning it into an open ended multiple choice question </li></ul></ul><li>Don't “mm-hmm” when they spek </li><ul><li>It makes editing a bitch!
  80. Use non-verbals </li></ul></ul>
  81. Presentation <ul><li>Be really aware of body language </li><ul><li>It is the only feedback your guest has
  82. It is another way to steer the conversation </li><ul><li>Simple nods or shakes of the head
  83. Thumbs up, flat hand, spin up or shrink </li></ul><li>Do not </li><ul><li>Fidget
  84. Twirl your hair
  85. Move around your seat
  86. Go defensive or cross your arms </li></ul></ul></ul>
  87. Post Production “Who does it hurt, that's who the story is about” James Blish, author of “Spock Must Die!”
  88. Post Production <ul><li>Your job is to </li><ul><li>Cut to length
  89. Make the interview sound brilliant
  90. Make your guest sound great </li><ul><li>Even to the detriment of yourslef </li></ul><li>Do not be afraid to edit drastically if it is required
  91. Good Preparation and Presentation will reduce editing </li><ul><li>The best edit is where you have to do nothing </li></ul></ul></ul>
  92. Post Production <ul><li>If you have a good structure (riding that wave) in the interview, use that
  93. Do not be afraid to move whole sections around, but remember the idea of wave to keep some flow
  94. You have a responsibility to represent your guest accurately.
  95. Don't cut every umm, ahh, silence or breath </li><ul><li>Try to make it natural, not perfect </li></ul></ul>
  96. Post Production <ul><li>Audio Tricks </li><ul><li>Get a clean ten seconds of background noise
  97. Sometimes useful to take a copy of a breath you take, and your guest, to drop in later.
  98. You can edit single words, but consider loosing a whole sentence instead to preserve flow and rythym
  99. Do not alter the meaning with edits
  100. A silence can seem four times as long as I actually is. </li></ul></ul>
  101. Post Production <ul><li>Video Tricks (Single Camera) </li><ul><li>Cover edit points on screen with: </li><ul><li>Screenshots of apps or websites </li><ul><li>Last restort, grab blog or twitter screencap </li></ul><li>Cut away to a practical tthing, like an iphone for an Apple interview.
  102. Allows you to move sections around under these “cut covers” </li></ul><li>Film a few “noddies” </li><ul><li>Reverse angle head shot on interviewer simply nodding or using body language. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  103. Post Production <ul><li>People believe that video is heavily edited </li><ul><li>It isn't! It's all about shot selection </li></ul><li>People believe that audio is lightly edited </li><ul><li>Even though you can go right down to single syllable and get away with it. </li></ul><li>Use these perceptions to your advantage
  104. Don't forget to take notes for the blog post (show notes for Google ranking) </li></ul>
  105. Ewan Spence www.ewanspence.com @ewanspence You Will Be a Good Interviewer!

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