There are some stories I haven’t shared. They might carry a little sting of “ouches,” but they are always educational. I always learn, and most of my lessons come from interviews with people.
Whether these were pre-interviews or recorded interviews, I find great lessons in every convo. When I first started in journalism, I was focused on telling a powerful story, one that would win a Pulitzer Prize and other awards. My study of other journalists’ works led me to believe that the greatest stories were loaded with pain, struggle, hardships and more.
So that’s what I went after, and I went after it hard.
In college, I took a journalism course taught by a Pulitzer-Prize winner, and the goal was to interview one person eight times. We essentially did a deep dive into every aspect of this person’s life (in school, in relation to religion, in the family, outside the family), and we packaged that together into one feature-length article. It seemed like a great idea, and the person I chose to interview was already an acquaintance. So our chemistry made me feel pretty confident about the final outcome of the project.
From my earlier conversations with this person, I knew there was a history of a not-so-great relationship in high school. The focus of the story was her experience with melanoma cancer, but the rough relationship seemed like such a defining moment of her childhood.
I kept asking for more and more details about that relationship, and I was trying to piece all the details — the who, what, when, where and why — together. I just wanted to understand what it felt like to go through this experience. I wanted to FEEL that pain, so I could help her. The individual was clearly having a hard time in our interviews, and it was getting harder for me.
I persisted … until she backed out of the project. It was too much.
After I unraveled everything that happened, I finally found the lesson I was supposed to learn: I was focusing too much on the trauma and not the person.
Sure, they might have gone through a rocky time (haven’t we all?), but their lives are more than what happened to them. 😊They’ve had plenty of awesome wins; they have families; and they are chasing dreams. These details matter just as much as the hardships. Be sure to craft the complete image of a person, as best as you can.
For your next on-camera interviews, ask what may seem like easy questions as much as or even more frequently than the hard ones.
Here are easy questions anyone would be more than happy to answer.
👍 What do you like about our organization, and why?
❤️ What is one of your favorite memories since being involved with us?
🙏 Tell me about the camp / event / program you are involved in?
After you get these in, you can ease into more personal questions.
Would you like to make your next video project easier? Hop on my calendar, and we’ll get you taken care of.
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