Thursday, November 27, 2008

We have ways of making you talk ...

I'm learning shorthand, which is fascinating and kind of beautiful, so that I can avoid the long silent gaps during interviews when I struggle to scrawl notes, forget what I wanted to ask next, and generally feel like the most hopelessly inept interviewer on earth.

I find the interview process completely daunting (when I'm grilling a stranger for information, that is. Writing that touches has been a thoroughly delicious experience.)

Readers, (and writers) I'd love your input. Do you have tips on how to interview people? How can I get someone to wax expressively on a subject? When I'm researching something, how do I get past the pat answers and get people to share the stories that matter?

All help gratefully received!


kathrynoh said...

When I was younger, I interviewed a lot of bands (on camera, not written interviews) and found we got the best material after the interview ended and we'd just be sitting around chatting. They'd be out of "official" interview mode and just talk naturally.

Good luck with the shorthand. I started learning it years ago but never kept it up. I'm sure it'd come in handy though.

Nikki Magennis said...

Hi Kathryn, nice to hear from you!

And thanks for the input - yes, I suppose it's all about getting the subject to relax and forget they're being interviewed. I hope that I'll get better at it as I go along! It's just so different from having a conversation, I think.

Madeline Moore said...

The research I've done was mostly 'on the street' and I found that following people around was a great way to experience them in a natural way.

I'd use my own brand of short hand and, usually, wait until the interview was over to write everything down. It worked well at the time but I imagine my memory wouldn't serve me as well now as it did in the good ol' days.