Thursday, April 30, 2009

Barbara Walters: Tips on Interviewing…And More

A few weeks ago Barbara Walters discussed “The Interview” as a panelist at The Newhouse School of Public Communications (Syracuse University) breakfast. Makovsky + Company is one of several sponsors of that program. I note some of her rules and observations:

  • Knowledge – “Know the interviewee better than they know themselves – and know where you are going with him or her in the interview.”

  • Preparation – “Before the interview – do your homework and do not depend on questions others may write.”

  • Loyalty – “Your loyalty is to the audience – don’t promise them something you can’t deliver.”

  • Keeping Promises with PR Pros – “Some public relations people say you can’t talk about this or that with the interviewee. If you violate that promise, the pubic relations professional won’t work with you again.”

  • The Worst Interview – “The worst interview I ever did was with Warren Beatty. I asked him ‘how are you?’ There was interminable dead silence. Finally he said, ‘fine.’”

  • The Best Interview – “My best interview was Katherine Hepburn. I said you are a legend. And she said, “No. I am an old tree – an oak tree – not a weeping willow’.”

  • Celebrities I Wanted But Didn’t Get – “Anyone I wanted to interview and didn’t?

  • The Madoff Question – “What would I have asked Bernie Madoff? ‘How could you do this to your friends’ ”

  • Editing Interviews – “How you edit an interview is very important. I always sit in on editing sessions. I am a very good editor and it is hard work. You can criticize me on my interviewing style, but this I am good at.”

  • Interviewing Obama – “What is charming about Obama – is when he was with his wife, he leaned over, as he wiped his teeth with his index finger, showing her she had lipstick on her teeth. His PR people did not edit it out.”

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