How to Conduct an Interview for Speech Support

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  • 0:01 Conducting an Interview
  • 2:16 Before the Interview
  • 3:42 During the Interview
  • 5:09 After the Interview
  • 6:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

Conducting an interview for speech support is more than just asking a bunch of questions. In this lesson, you will learn about the techniques to prepare and conduct an interview. You will also learn how to best use your interview information for speech support.

Conducting an Interview

Jason and Percy are working on a group presentation project on Greek mythology. They want to interview a local history professor to get expert testimony for their speech. They've done a lot of research already and feel pretty comfortable with their topic, so they decide to talk to the professor without any other preparation. They find the professor's office, but he's in the middle of an intense conversation with a student.

During the interview, the professor seems agitated, and the boys fumble to find the appropriate questions to ask. They also discovered that the professor taught ancient Greek history, but his area of interest was primarily Mesopotamia. When they get home, Percy and Jason want to use a particular part of the interview, but they both struggle to remember what the professor said. How could Percy and Jason conduct a better interview next time?

Interviews for speeches are question-and-answer sessions conducted with the preparer of the speech and an individual or a group of people in order to gather information to use as supporting materials for a speech. These interviews can either be conducted with experts or with people that have experienced a particular event. You can use the people in your class, your family, or a professor you know as an interview for a speech. Interviewing someone about a particular concept or event is a great way to get extra insight on a topic and to push your research into a new direction.

As you are conducting your interview, you can use the information you gather as either peer or expert testimony to support your speech. Peer testimony is a statement that comes from someone who has experienced an event or situation. It could be someone who has been directly affected by the topic of your speech or someone that has an opinion on the topic. Expert testimony comes from a person that is a respected expert in the field of your topic, such as a doctor or someone that has conducted a great deal of research in that particular field.

In this lesson, you will learn how to prepare the interview, how to conduct an interview, and what to do after an interview.

Before the Interview

First, you need to know how to prepare before the interview occurs. How the interview flows will be determined by how well you prepare. This is something that Percy and Jason overlooked entirely and could have helped greatly with their interview. When you prepare for the interview, consider the following:

  • Determine the purpose of the interview
  • Research your subject
  • Confirm meeting times (and be on time!)
  • Prepare the questions

Make sure you know the purpose of the interview. Ask yourself what type of information you are looking to gather and how that information will help your speech. Sometimes, conducting an interview isn't helpful if you have better supporting materials for your speech. Generally, interviews are used to get peer or expert testimony, as discussed earlier.

Make sure you research your interview subject if you can. Gather as much information as possible on this individual, so you are asking true interview questions rather than ones you can get the answers to online. For example, Percy and Jason would have avoided finding that the professor's primary interest was not Greek history if they had researched their subject prior to the interview. Also, researching the interviewee will help you prepare questions that you might not have previously given thought to before the research.

Communicate efficiently and thoroughly with your interview subject and be on time for meeting times. Nothing looks more unprofessional than being late to your own meeting!

During the Interview

There are a few things to keep in mind during an interview:

  • Make your subject feel comfortable
  • Ask questions clearly
  • Listen openly
  • Take notes

First, you need to make sure your subject feels comfortable. If it is obvious that the person you are interviewing is having an off day or has experienced something that is going to distract from the interview, try to reschedule or greet the subject to make him or her feel comfortable while maintaining a professional attitude.

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