Matt Chittock shares his tips for interviewing and making sure that, when that brilliant soundbite comes along, you’re prepared.
Journalists aren’t the only writers that need keen interviewing skills. From capturing a CEO’s wise words for their company’s annual report to transcribing a celeb’s latest bon mots for an advertorial – getting the right quotes is key to crafting brilliant copy.
With this in mind, here are three practical tips to ensure you get more of the right stuff in your notepad or dictaphone.
1. Quotes by email never work. If you’ve ever responded to questions by email you’ll know how hard it is to gauge the length and tone of the answers – and you’re the writer! Always set up an interview by phone or in person – you can always send the subject the quotes to edit later, if appropriate.
2. Don’t be afraid to go ‘off road’. Worried that the CEO who’s supposed to talk company strategy has just started chatting about her passion for collecting beer mats? Rather than quickly getting her back on track, let her ramble for a while. Often a digression illuminates the subject in a way neither of you would expect.
3. Check the batteries in your dictaphone. Or if you have shorthand, make sure there’s ink in your pen. The death of your recording apparatus at a key moment will make an entertaining anecdote ten years’ hence, but in the short term it looks hugely unprofessional.
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