How to Interview “Almost” Anyone – TEDx Talk by Mike Dronkers
Year of production: 2020
0:10 ah so it interviewing is is an art but I 0:16 don't treat it that way so let's put it 0:19 like this like this is basically a talk 0:21 about not talking I work at a very 0:24 eclectic community radio station and 0:26 we're really lucky we talk to all kinds 0:29 of people yeah there's bands that come 0:30 through that's great I can hang with 0:32 that but authors read [ __ ] book 0:35 we've got authors coming through we've 0:37 got you know poets and drug addicts and 0:41 nonprofits of every stripe and 0:43 scientists like people with job titles 0:46 like fluvial geomorphologist right I 0:49 don't know either but the thing is I 0:53 have to have this conversation with them 0:55 and I want it to be good and meaningful 0:56 I really do and I want to know what 0:59 makes them tick the problem is I'm not 1:01 an expert in fluvial geomorphology and 1:04 the truth is in this life you get to be 1:06 an expert in like one maybe two things 1:08 max okay so how do you get through this 1:12 what I want to talk to you today about 1:14 is how to fake your way through an 1:17 interview and hopefully have a great 1:18 conversation on the other side of it 1:20 okay 1:20 now I do get some on-the-job training it 1:23 was very sparse and the the woman who is 1:26 training me she sort of walked me 1:28 through the building I was going to be 1:29 on the air in a week and she's like 1:31 here's how you do this here's how you do 1:32 this oh and you're going to be 1:33 interviewing people and I'm like oh okay 1:35 I got a pen out right she's like here's 1:38 how you do that you just shut up 1:43 I put the pen away she's like you shut 1:47 up you've got that I got that and that 1:51 was 15 years ago 1:52 I still got that it's fantastic advice 1:54 and there's a couple other tricks that I 1:56 want to share with you there's there's 1:57 about six little ones and then one 1:59 massive one so let's do this here's how 2:01 you interview almost anyone trick number 2:04 one do some prep come on don't be that 2:08 guy who is like I'm just going to wing 2:10 it man and I'm looking at podcasters 2:12 mostly for this there's this scourge of 2:14 people who think that they can sit down 2:16 and hold their own and they can't nobody 2:20 is that good 2:21 nobody is that good okay and secondly 2:24 it's a little arrogant and vain to think 2:26 that you are so show your guests it's 2:29 true show your guests the basic dignity 2:32 of a Google search it's not hard do it 2:35 on your phone I don't care when you do 2:37 it just do it okay so number two you are 2:40 going to be doing some prep I suggest 2:43 since that author is coming in and you 2:46 may not have read the whole book or like 2:49 maybe even half of it they're gonna need 2:51 you to know about it so what you do is 2:53 you find interviews they already did and 2:56 somebody else can do the work for you 2:58 now I'm not saying I'm not saying steal 3:01 their questions because that's wrong but 3:03 I am saying you can use the answers that 3:05 they gave earlier as your jumping-off 3:07 point 3:08 okay we call this the Terry Gross move 3:11 you guys know who Terry Gross is okay 3:13 she's fantastic and she said this was a 3:15 stealable move I was in the room she 3:17 said you can have it okay so what that 3:20 looks like when you take you're 3:22 basically following up on somebody 3:23 else's questions so if that person is on 3:25 NPR and that person says well my 3:27 workflow goes like this I wake up at 3:30 7:05 then I do hot yoga then I'm in the 3:33 office by 9:00 you can use that answer 3:35 and you can pick it apart you can 7:05 3:38 it's like a normal person sets an alarm 3:41 for 7:05 it's seven o'clock 7:30 why 3:44 that and then they will tell you well 3:46 you know I did the math is how long it 3:47 takes me to get to the the bathroom and 3:49 then the shower takes this long and then 3:51 you're off to the races 3:52 okay so 7:05 that's the Terry Gross move 3:55 follow up all right now if you're going 4:00 to be finding interviews with people 4:01 this is my personal favorite and I hope 4:04 that you remember this and steal it you 4:06 can have it it goes like this 4:08 find verbal interviews when you read in 4:11 Rolling Stone or some blog an interview 4:14 the odds are very high that that 4:15 interview was done over email so they're 4:19 thinking their answers out it's all 4:20 calculated its tactical you don't want 4:23 that you want the verbal things where 4:25 you get the social cues and the 4:26 intangibles that they're going to bring 4:28 to you like a normal human in a normal 4:30 human conversation where you know if 4:33 they're nervous and you can help them if 4:35 you know that they're going to be 4:36 nervous you can see it and you can 4:38 predict it okay so another thing they'll 4:40 Telegraph to you in these other 4:42 interviews that you're listening to do 4:44 they speak too fast are they walled off 4:47 do they have a stutter Lisp like you 4:49 want to know all this going in so find 4:50 verbal interviews now the sidebar to 4:52 that this is a great thing as an 4:54 interviewer you really really want to 4:57 hear these words how did you even know 5:00 that that's what you want to hear and if 5:03 you can find these sort of small-time 5:04 interviews these verbal interviews that 5:06 they've done right if you're going on 5:08 NBC in the morning you were going to 5:09 stay up all night practicing but if you 5:12 were going on a high school radio 5:13 station in Tuscaloosa Alabama you were 5:16 going to phone it in from your car on 5:18 your way to pick up your kids right 5:20 you're going to forget everything you 5:21 said on that interview so those are the 5:23 ones you want to find the little tiny 5:24 ones where the stakes are very low and 5:26 they're very casual because all these 5:28 tips that I'm trying to give you set a 5:30 stage for a person to be casual 5:32 comfortable and human so find the little 5:35 ones because when you bring up the thing 5:37 that they forgot they told the high 5:38 school DJ in Tuscaloosa Alabama they 5:40 will tell you how did you even know that 5:42 and then they loosen up even more 5:45 because things are going good first 5:47 three tips that's all beforehand second 5:48 three tips are going to be during the 5:50 interview number one I hate to even say 5:53 it but icebreakers they totally work 5:55 your summer camp counselor was right 5:57 okay and the trick that you want to do 6:00 is when you are breaking the ice with 6:02 somebody you don't know especially when 6:03 they're way out of your league is make 6:05 it relevant camouflage it so if you're 6:08 talking to a flu 6:09 geomorphologist and i have she was 6:14 awesome straight you can ask things like 6:17 what was your major in college it's 6:20 relevant but not really it's an 6:22 icebreaker and I go oh yeah you know I 6:23 will I went into college as a poetry 6:25 major but then I switched to geology 6:27 what a cat how do you connect that and 6:30 you ask her that and she will connect 6:32 poetry to geology and it's beautiful 6:35 okay so don't fear the Icebreaker it'll 6:38 work for you last two little things 6:40 before we get to the big one number one 6:41 is a listen which is harder and harder 6:45 and harder everything in this world is 6:48 trying to shorten your attention span 6:49 and everything is winning at that 6:52 everything is winning and if you're not 6:54 listening to me right now I feel you but 6:58 try to focus in and don't do these corny 7:02 things of like trying to think of your 7:03 next question while they're still 7:04 talking listen completely and be there 7:07 be present don't try to get a joke in 7:10 and certainly do not step on their 7:13 answer give them the time okay 7:15 so so you want to listen and you can 7:17 only listen if you last one shut up 7:21 she was right it comes back to shutting 7:24 up and giving them some breathing room 7:25 so that they can say their piece at a 7:27 tempo they're cool with and there's a 7:29 fun sidebar to the shut up thing which 7:31 is this dead air chicken does that make 7:34 sense just right off the bat No okay so 7:38 dead air chicken works like this 7:45 it can go on and I will win because when 7:52 you create an awkward pause that is 7:53 awkward enough the thing that they will 7:56 desperately fill it with burbles up from 7:59 a wild part of their psychology that 8:02 they cannot control it all and this is 8:05 where you get your unpredictable stuff 8:07 so dead air chicken do proceed with 8:08 caution though all right so now these 8:12 things will get you through an interview 8:13 they will get you through to the other 8:15 side and you will kind of appear 8:17 confident cuz you kind of are at this 8:19 point but it won't give you the 8:20 conversation that you want to have the 8:22 one that people will email you later 8:24 about and say man I didn't think floovio 8:27 what is it I didn't know that was my 8:30 thing so they'll email you this if you 8:33 can set the table for your guests to be 8:35 comfortable you know when you're at a 8:37 party and you are explaining your job to 8:41 somebody else or your passion to 8:42 somebody else and they're just leaning 8:44 in and they're like bring it bring it I 8:46 want to know everything you can tell me 8:48 that is the real trick board people are 8:52 boring interested people are interesting 8:55 so what I'm trying to tell you is be 8:57 interested in everything possible right 9:01 everything at all curiosity is a muscle 9:03 and I'm not the most curious person by 9:06 any stretch but I have found that the 9:08 ROI on curiosity man that pays for 9:11 itself because you if you can put 9:14 yourself in uncomfortable positions if 9:15 you can like for me it looks like you 9:18 know sort of cultivating curiosity I try 9:21 to diversify my media I try to listen to 9:23 John Rizzo music I don't like free jazz 9:27 what the hell free jazz I want to know 9:30 what people see in free jazz I don't get 9:32 it but I listen to it sometimes and it's 9:35 sort of for rewarding but it gives me 9:37 practice at being uncomfortable with 9:39 things I don't know about so I guess 9:42 what I'm trying to say here is that if 9:44 you can be interested in everything as 9:46 much as possible it makes your life 9:49 better not just when you're at work 9:51 having an interview fluvial 9:52 geomorphologist right because you will 9:55 find that you can hang with most 9:57 conversations 9:57 as you are bought in you're genuinely 10:00 interested in what you are being told 10:03 you are learning and there's an emerson 10:05 quote he says every man I meet is my 10:08 superior in some way and in that I 10:11 learned from him and that is in my 10:13 experience completely true I think about 10:14 it a lot and I have talked to Oscar 10:18 winners I have talked to hobos who live 10:21 in a bush and like they're equally 10:24 interesting to me their narrative 10:27 matters and if I can sort of set the 10:30 table for them to to tell me how they 10:32 are the good guy in their own movie 10:34 that's all I want and that's all they 10:36 want and time after time if you can get 10:39 to that point in your your discussions 10:40 and your interviews you will find that 10:43 you walk away a better person so to 10:46 conclude do the tips you know do some to 10:50 some prep seriously do that use the 10:52 icebreaker find the verbal interviews do 10:54 all that stuff but if you can make 10:55 curiosity your hobby if you can become 10:58 an expert in curiosity if that's your 11:02 one area of expertise you will find that 11:05 every single person is worth listening 11:07 to and you're going to walk away better 11:09 and don't forget to shut up 11:19 you
Engaging talk on do’s and dont’s in interviewing: before, during and after.
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