Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro

Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro

by Dean Nelson


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From respected journalist, professor, and founder of the Writer's Symposium by the Sea, a book that demystifies the art and science of interviewing, in the vein of On Writing Well or How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

“Dean Nelson is one of the best interviewers around.”—Anne Lamott

Interviewing is the single most important way journalists (and doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, human resources staff, and, really, all of us) get information. Yet to many, the perfect interview feels more like luck than skill—a rare confluence of rapport, topic, and timing. But the thing is, great interviews aren’t the result of serendipity and intuition, but rather the result of careful planning and good journalistic habits. And Dean Nelson is here to show you how to nail the perfect interview every time.  

Drawing on forty-years of award-winning journalism and his experience as the founder and host of the Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, Nelson walks readers through each step of the journey from deciding whom to interview and structuring questions, to the nitty gritty of how to use a recording device and effective note-taking strategies, to the ethical dilemmas of interviewing people you love (and loathe). He also includes case studies of famous interviews to show readers how these principles play out in real time.

Chock full of comprehensive, time-tested, gold-standard advice, Talk to Me is an indispensable guide to the subtle art of the interview guaranteed to afford readers with the skills and confidence they need the next time they say, “talk to me.”



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062825209
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 517,261
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dean Nelson is the founder and director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He is also the founder and host of the annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. A forty-year veteran journalist, Nelson’s byline has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Diego magazine, Westways magazine, Mpls/St. Paul magazine, and more. He lives in San Diego with his wife.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

More Than Instinct: Asking Better Questions, Getting Better Answers

Chapter 1 18

It Starts In Your Head: Deciding Whom to Interview and Why

Case Study 46

Where "Clueless" Meets "Reckless": David Greene from NPR Interviews Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders

Chapter 2 53

Then It Goes To Your Hands And Feet: Hunting And Gathering Your Sources

Chapter 3 98

Then You Dig: What You Don't Know Will Hurt You

Chapter 4 121

Now You Make A Plan: Pick a Structure, but Be Ready to Abandon It

Chapter 5 149

Just Before You Start: A Few More Considerations Before the Questions Begin

Chapter 6 174

Okay, Go!: Starting the Conversation and Keeping It Rolling

Case Study 204

An Interview That Started Out Well, Went Off The Rails, And Got Better Again: Chris Wallace of FOX News Interviews Former President Bill Clinton

Chapter 7 225

Dont Avoid The Hard Part. What's Most Uncomfortable Might Also Be the Most important

Case Study 249

Still A Classic, And Better Than Frost/Nixon: Barbara Walters Interviews Mike Wallace

Chapter 8 269

Before And After The Interview Ends. How To Wrap It Up Well and How to Ensure Accuracy

Chapter 9 292

Note-Taking And Recording: You Probably Won't Get Sued If You Do This Properly

Chapter 10 314

Terms You Should Know: We Use These Phrases, but What Do They Mean?

Chapter 11 343

Check Your Ego At The Door: Interviewing Those You Love and Those You Loathe

Case Study 358

An Interview That Started Out Badly And Pretty Much Stayed That Way: Terry Gross of Fresh Air Talks to Gene Simmons of KISS

Conclusion 369

Acknowledgments 377

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