April 22, 2002
Were going over a number of the most important elements
a good interview. We started last week by suggesting that
you do lots and lots of home work on your subject.
This week, a bit on what you do with that research. The
second important rule of good interviews is to prepare your
script carefully. This means to think a bit about the kind
of interview you are doing. A live interview is less
controllable, but the chemistry of that live interaction
often make your interview much more spontaneous and fresh.
If your interview is to be recorded, you have a bit more
leaway in not having your questions perfect, but the danger
is often with the pressure off, the interview looses some
When we say prepare your script carefully, we mean a couple
of things. It means, in general, to put your most important
questions first, followed by your second, third and
subsequent questions after that. For a feature interview
that will get little editing, you might also consider
holding your second most important question in reserve to
tease for later in the show.
If you are working on a heavily edited piece, with
producers, editors and the like, be sure you agree on not
only the wording of the questions, but the actual meanings
of those questions.
If you are doing an interview that comprises the bulk of
your program, prepare your script in such a way that you
easily intro your show, intro your guest, and get to your
first questions without thinking much. Once you make it to
your first question - or more accurately, when your guest
gets to his or her first answer, you have some time to
think, reflect, and plan your next question, but dont
contact with your guest when you do that.
By all means, if your guest inspires follow up questions,
and your schedule allows, follow these new thoughts wherever
they might lead. If you are on a tighter schedule, you
wont have the luxury of following where the guests
thoughts might go.
Next week: what you are trying to get your guest to say.
Until then, keep breathing!