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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Improving my interviews - a basic, common sense approach

Thankfully, the days of mini cassette recorders died with the advent of the iPhone. Returning to field of journalism doesn't mean fumbling with rewind and keeping track of itty bitty tapes anymore. Thank God.

So happy I don't have to worry about you anymore

Recording my recent interviews via iPhone revealed one unavoidable truth: I probably make my interview subjects feel  very uncomfortable.







as I attempted to write down every single word of the interview I was already recording anyway. I left my interviews with pages and pages of sloppy, handwritten notes. If I'm going to make a serious go of this whole writing thing, I figure I need to step up my interview game in a big way.

Why? I want my interviewees to feel comfortable sharing their truth with me. I hope to build long lasting relationships as a result of my interviews. I need to get stellar quotes and killer content that distinguishes me as a fabulous writer.

Here's my game plan going forward:

  1. Do a soundcheck to make sure I can clearly hear my interviewee on the recorder before starting the conversation
  2. Create a detailed list of questions on my notepad and check them off as I ask them
  3. Take one word notes during the interview of memorable quotes to guide the writing/editing process afterwards
  4. Upload interviews to soundcloud, external hard drive or similar service after interview just in case anything happens to my phone before I submit my article (heaven forbid)
  5. In the car immediately after the interview, try to outline the important parts of the conversation (procrastinator I am, I doubt this will happen)
  6. Continue to listen to all transcripts and find ways to make my interviews feel more like a conversation
This seemed like a great idea for a blog post initially. Now that I'm reading it, it seems pretty basic but I'm still going to keep it. Surely I can't be the only one that has a long way to go in my interview process. 

Do you have any tricks of the trade to share? Do tell! 

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