Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve shared tips for creating videos https://h20cooler.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/leveraging-your-reputation-make-your-videos-better/ and podcasts https://h20cooler.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/leveraging-your-reputation-podcasting-for-publicity/ here before, and hopefully you’ve tried those suggestions. So let’s suppose everything is ready to go: your equipment, plan, and ideas. There might be someone who would make an interesting guest for your video or podcast, which would give you a chance to interview him or her. Interviews not only add variety to what you’re creating, but also help you reach out to different kinds of people, even outside the legal profession, which makes them look good and you, too.
Here are some tips for conducting successful interviews, assuming you’ve already done the research about your guest and topic and have already watched or listened to how the pros do it:
1) Ask open-ended questions. It is tempting to ask questions such as, “Are you happy this case was successful?” But the answer could be a simple “yes” if the person isn’t naturally talkative or doesn’t know that he or she “has to” talk at length. Many people have never done an interview, so you have to guide them with the questions. A better question would be, “How do you feel about the results of the case?”
2) Keep the questions short. Ask a question in the simplest way possible. Even if you already know information about the person or the topic that he or she is talking about, there’s no need to prove what you know before you ask the question. Let the interviewee tell the story and share details instead of you. In other words, don’t “frontload” the question with your own knowledge and experience. After all, what’s the point of the interview if you’re going to do most of the talking?
3) Keep the prepared questions in your pocket. You might want to go through your list to hit everything you want to get out of the person you’re interviewing, but if he or she says something interesting, ask about it and follow up instead of moving on to the next question. Only refer to your prepared questions if you feel that you haven’t covered everything you want. But usually, with effective questioning, you get what you want out of the interview, and there’s no need to even refer to the questions because it’s a natural progression from one idea to another.
4) Be quiet. It is irritating to the listener or viewer when the interviewer says, “uh-huh,” or audibly reacts in other ways to what the person is saying. Don’t respond with sounds, but instead nod your head to show that you are listening. If you’re doing an audio interview and the interviewee says something funny, smile instead of laughing. The focus of the interview should be the other person, not you.
5) It’s not about you. People look at famous interviewers on TV and assume that they have to show as much of their personality and intensity as they can, but that is not a good idea because the star of the interview is the other person, not you. If the interview is effective and good information has been revealed, then that will be a great reflection on you anyway.
Have fun, relax, and make the most of the opportunity and guest because you never know where it might lead in your own publicity efforts.