Listen and Hear
As we continue our examination what makes for good interviewing
technique, I want to talk about something that would seem
obvious but is little understood. You have done your home
work, you have observed all the formalities, you have set
the ground rules. Now the tape is rolling, the camera is recording,
and the interview has actually begun.
When your subject speaks, as much as possible, really listen
to them. Dont hear just the words they are saying, but
also try to figure out what they are feeling, what they are
really meaning, what they might be trying to avoid talking
about. You can only do this if you listen intently, and not
worry too much about your next question.
When you have done intense homework on your subject, there
is a tendency to be concerned that you get all the right questions
asked, to be thinking ahead to your next question, to be worried
about audio levels, your hair, your clothes - almost anything
but the person sitting across from you.
Yes, its a broadcast (or a recording), and there are
lots of things that can go wrong. But things like audio levels,
framing of the picture, how the interview will fit into your
overall piece or program have to be forgotten. For those few
minutes that you are speaking with a subject, there is nothing
else in the world - whether they are homeless or presidents,
super-stars or death-row inmates.
You owe your audience your full attention to your interview
subject. For those few minutes, really hear what the subject
is saying, dont just listen. Your questions should make
sense in the context of your conversation.
The final use of the interview will determine how you ask
your questions and the order you ask them. Well discuss
this in more depth in the next installment.
Until then, keep breathing!