Not another ‘digg’ at Sarah Lacy, merely a ‘how-not-to’ suggestion

Sorry if this appears like I’m continuing to pick on her, but this Sarah Lacy interview with the Digg guys is a good demo of how NOT to talk over someone you are interviewing — on-stage, on-video or on-audio. Perhaps you can do so while conducting an interview for something you are writing (I’d practice avoiding it there, also), but (and this is something I’ve learned from radio reporters) when you are interviewing for “broadcast” (or podcast) never say “yes” or “uh-huh” or “right” or anything while someone is answering a question.

Why? Lots of reasons, some technical and others are just common sense.

Saying, “right” sounds like you are approving what they are saying — and that’s okay if it’s two tech people involved in a conversation, but not if it’s a “reporter” interviewing a “subject.” Don’t keep saying “uh-huh” as if you are the arbitrator of whether or not what they are saying is correct, or not.

But the most important reason not to talk over someone else, however is this: It will make you very popular with the person who is editing your video or audio. He or she will thank you for being such a pro.

  • I’ve followed the Lacy-Zuckerberg interview saga with interest and found your analysis and recommendations helpful. I don’t think you’re picking on her, but this is the second time you use her work as an example of “what not to do.” Maybe she’s that bad.

    Regardless of her interviewing ability, she’s become a web meme in her own right. In fact, I had no idea who she was until the fateful interview. Mind you that her notoriety will probably be lost on me, as I doubt I will follow her work. Have I made up mind too fast because of one big mistake (I saw the full interview; though, not in person)? Maybe or maybe not. I’ve tried going through some of her past appearances in tech|ticker and I find her personality too bubbly for serious on-camera work. So maybe that’s what you pick up about her style.

    I’m around her age, so I don’t mind her energetic and familiar manner, but it comes across as too friendly for the type of work she’s doing. I think she tries to do the “not an interview” interview, where the whole thing comes out as episodes of a trendy sitcom and not a serious information gathering exercise. This “interview” you link in your post, for example. What’s the goal? Just a couple of minutes of idle chat with the digg guys or was there a particular purpose? Is there any value here? We all know that iPhone SDK is a kind of big deal, so I found the video just filling up space. I understand the need to be hip and in the loop with quick bits of information flying around (a la twitter), so perhaps I’m misunderstanding her work (and a few of other podcasters’: talented or not talented, they can reach the masses rather quickly).

    I would be interested to know what your thoughts are about this “not an interview” interview perspective of mine. I’m not even sure if this is what you would call it, but you see this method used on more serious work: for example, the Barbara Walters’s and Diane Sawyer’s interviews. Obviously, their work has more production value and is probably rehearsed, but I think there are some similarities on what Lacy is trying to do. Albeit, Lacy does appear to break the interviewer-interviewee relationship (if there is any), as if to say “look, we’re all good friends around here and there just happens to be a camera around recording it all.”

    Note that If you were to have something to say about my question, I hope you don’t use Lacy as an example of “what not to do” again. 🙂 I’m sure her employers are keeping tabs on her fame and things may not end up on the positive side for her.