This blog is brought you from the team at Stillmotion and Muse.
A strong story starts with being able to capture a strong interview, one that’s deeply felt, real, and original. We want to help you capture more interviews like that—regardless of who you’re talking to.
It’s about creating the emotional bond that allows people to be really able and willing to go there with you—and to share those deep, thoughtful, and introspective things you would have never thought to ask—or they would have otherwise never thought to share.
Really strong interviews come from one mighty powerful concept, a very particular approach that we need to adopt before each and every interview, pre-interview, and initial conversation. This approach is what we call the golden rule of interviews. And that’s this:
It’s a Conversation, Not a Performance
That means we need to approach our interviews as conversations—real and honest dialogues between two people. And we need to move away from any habits that encourage a performance. No more “Person A” reads “Person B” questions from his notes. No more Person B speaks, Person A takes more notes.
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Take a moment to let that sink in. It sounds so incredibly simple: have a conversation. It’s what we naturally do every day—over breakfast, on the bus, in the elevator—and that’s precisely why it’s so effective.
Conversations allow people to be natural.
While the golden rule sounds quite simple, it can actually be more difficult to put into practice. It’s somewhat of a paradigm shift, considering the interview approach of most filmmakers, journalists, or podcasters. Changing our habits and our thinking is never easy. This is why we’ve developed a filter to employ for our thinking and our actions, concerning interviews.
Before you revert to your usual habits—the direct questions, the notetaking—consider what we call “the coffee-shop filter.”
When employing the coffee-shop filter, consider if it’s a question you’d be asking—or an interaction you’d be having—with a friend over coffee. If it’s not, then it’s a performance. We want to avoid these questions that invite a performance. When conducting an interview of any kind, imagine that you were just out with a friend having coffee. Any behaviors that would be acceptable and expected in that situation are fitting for your interview, and anything that would feel out of place (like bringing notes) needs to go.
We use the coffee-shop filter as a litmus test to help gauge our interviewing skills. It’s all about moving the interview away from a performance, and toward sincere conversation. It’s about getting the passionate interview, the amazing story, and the thoughtful answers.
If you appreciate this concept and are interested in learning more, Stillmotion and Muse
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