Movies are great but not always true.
For example, in many movies that include an author of sorts they author wants complete isolation to start writing their piece. But they struggle and struggle and end up getting distracted (think “Love Actually”) or start imagining people (think “The Secret Window”). Why is this? Well, good writing doesn’t happen in isolation (think “Finding Neverland”).
Good writing happens by talking with others to gather information so you can write the words that will inform readers, guide them, and make them feel something. Start talking to professionals to understand their topic, and the needs they are addressed, so you can address these needs in your writing.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you interview, or talk, to people.
1. Be Prepared
For what? For interviewing a King! Okay, maybe not the king but prepare like you are. Think about what you want to talk about ahead of time. Think about specific questions you want to be answered. Determine if the best way for this conversation to be handled is a formal Q&A type conversation, or if a working session would be better. Also, think about where you’ll be conducting your interview? Sometimes phones work, but other times you’ll want to see the facial expressions and body language of the person you’re interviewing so perhaps a Skype or face-to-face meeting is best.
2. Start Broad
Starting with something like “don’t you think the public perception of your work has significantly altered in the past five years?” might be a little absurd. It is best to start with simple questions to warm up to the more thoughtful questions.
Before your interview, write down your questions and organize them in a natural flowing manner. Remember, your goal for the interview is to understand as much as you can about the topic at hand before writing your piece. Start broad with questions like “What are your goals with this project” and narrow down to “How do you feel the public will react to your work” or something along those lines.
Pro tip; try to make each question an open-ended question and avoid yes/no questions like the plague.
3. Keep it natural
A good interview flows and feels natural. To do this, let your interviewee think about the question and provide a full, thoughtful response. The best thing you can do after you ask your question is shut up. Let there be a silent moment for a bit and let them talk. Don’t ask another question before they finish and don’t try to finish their sentence. Let them talk now so you can write later.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to stray away from your planned questions. Keeping the conversation natural will often allow you to collect more information to write a better piece.
4. Be Clear
This falls in line with being prepared, but it is important to stress. Be clear when asking your questions. Avoid two questions at a time to allow your interviewee to answer each question specifically and include all the necessary details. Additionally, at the start of the interview clearly state your goals and why you are interviewing them. Framing the conversation can help make your interviewee feel more comfortable, confident, and provide specifics that may have been forgotten otherwise.
5. Respect their time
If you have a lot of questions and feel it will take a lot of time, break up your interviews into many. You’ll be writing your piece for some time, so have a few small interviews to ask your broader questions and as your writing continues, come back to ask more specifics. You can collect a lot of information in a 20-30 minute conversation.
6. Explain next steps
After thanking them for their time, explain to them what will happen next. Will it be another meeting next week? Will you be drafting your piece? Or will you be conducting more interviews? Help your interviewee understand what will happen next and keep them up-to-date with details on your progress. By keeping them involved and interested, you’re increasing the chances that they will read, share, and even link to your piece.
When our team works with clients, we follow these steps to ensure we capture as much information about your industry and business when writing. This allows us to write factual copy efficiently. If your team is looking for expert copywriters that can write engaging copy for your business, contact Unifusion.