Be a Great Interviewee: Tell Stories, Give Examples…and DON’T Get Stuck in ConceptVille

two male hands with thumbs up and down on white backgroundI just listened to an interview that, while interesting, could have been MUCH more interesting and compelling if the interviewee used examples and told stories to illustrate his points.

Here’s one example of what I mean.

The interviewee teaches mindfulness in prisons and himself had spent 14 years behind bars.

He shared his belief in the based goodness of humanity.

The interviewer asked him how challenging it was to believe in humanity’s basic goodness while living in an environment where you saw mankind behaving badly every day.

He replied by describing his informal research project while incarcerated, where he tried to find an example of a person who was inherently bad. He laughingly said that each time he thought “Alright…here’s my guy” that person would do something that revealed his basic goodness.

That’s It?????

After he moved on from that point, I found myself thinking “HEY…give me some examples of this! What did they do that surprised you…that changed your mind? I want to remember these when I find myself struggling to see the basic goodness in somebody.”

I wanted concrete examples.

I wanted specifics.

I wanted stories.

I would have loved a short story dramatizing some of the bad behaviors someone exhibited and then the surprising act of kindness, compassion, or generosity they were capable of.

I felt cheated.

And your audience feels that way when you speak only in abstract, conceptual terms–like this gentleman did–rather than following the use of conceptual and abstract terms with:

“…let me give you an example”

“…here’s an example of what I mean…”

or…telling a story that illustrates your point and then reflecting on the key takeaway message.

How to Put This To Use

For each key point you want to make, whether in an interview or a presentation, make sure you have an example and/or a story to illustrate it.

For More On This Topic

For more on how to move from ConceptVille to StoryVille when you’re doing an interviewee or speaking on a topic, check out How NOT to Suck When the Media Comes Calling

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