The art and craft of the interview

Do you ever listen to Terry Gross on “Fresh Air”?

I do. Have done so for years because she interviews the most interesting people in the most interesting way.

She’s been doing it for years, and she has a routine, according to a wonderful piece about her in the New York Times magazine:

“She clarifies her thoughts first thing in the morning in the shower. That’s when she asks herself: What do I care about? What in all of this research is meaningful? It’s important to be away from her notes when she does this. She emerges from the shower with her ‘’major destination points.’’ Then she goes to her office and refers back to her notes — sheafs of facts; dog-eared, marked-up books — for the details. Then she does the interview.”

I love that explanation of how she backs herself up so she can see the forest, after she has studied the trees. We all have to do that when we’ve immersed ourselves in researching a subject. We need to ask ourselves, why is this important? What makes this worth telling?

If you’ve never listened to Terry Gross, you probably should — especially if you’re working on becoming a better interviewer. Her style isn’t hard-hitting. But she demonstrates that there other ways to unpeel the layers and find out what’s really going on inside someone. She does it with humanity and humor.

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One Response to The art and craft of the interview

  1. blakecnelson says:

    Taking singing lessons knowing she’ll never sing, but also knowing it will subtly improve her delivery – that is incredible.

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