So I have a simple idea for what could possibly be an interesting website.  Obviously not this one.  The idea behind the site involves talking to a lot of people and working to get the most out of them.  Whether it be their background, their opinions, or just a good story or quote.  Before I jump into this though I decided to make a mental list of questions to prompt interesting answers as well as a few guidelines for myself to follow.  Basically how do I turn myself – a cube sitting, oddball, nerd – into the male version of Barbara Walters.

Barbara has a few advantages over me.  Yes we’re on a first name basis now.  First one being that she knows something about the people she is interviewing.  She doesn’t interview the “man on the street” who she knows nothing about.  The people I’m going to be talking to don’t have a wikipedia page, so I have to get the background and the story at all once.  The next advantage is that people she is interviewing have agreed ahead of time to be interviewed and have probably prepared to answer a predetermined set of questions.  I won’t have that luxury.  Since I have the disadvantage in the battle of interviewers I have come up with a few rules to what I think will make a good interview process.

I think my first rule I’m inventing now is to make the person feel comfortable.  Try to get them to think of me as a friend.  After all, I’m not attempting to embarrass anyone, expose anything, or make anyone look bad.  I don’t want them to feel like I’m grilling them with questions.  It needs to feel like a conversation, but how do you get to a conversational state quickly though?  A bunch of background questions will only prompt short one word answers, but are needed to paint an entire picture of the individual.  Most people don’t want to spend a lot of time with a stranger answering questions about themselves. A gift?  Coffee, a drink?  Something to relax the situation and make it more like a chat than an interview?

Next pseudo-quasi-sorta-somewhat-rule is to only expect so much.  You can’t always plan where a an conversation will start or where it may end up, so having a rough outline of questions will help, but only get you so far.  Being an active listener will help a lot.  Build questions off of what they are saying, not by what you want them to say.  Not everyone will have a great story to tell if you lead them, but everyone has a story to tell if you follow them.  You can always hope for a conversation to grow in one direction, but the direction that the person you are talking to takes it may be a much better story.  Mostly because if they want to talk about it, they will more than likely be able to give much more detail and talk with more enthusiasm.

The final rule I have is to keep it light.  It should be fun for people to talk and tell their stories.  I don’t want anyone to feel pressure, or obligated to tell me anything.  Not that I could pry information out of anyone.  I’m no Jack Bauer.  Unless that is a talent I have hidden deep within me.  I don’t want a person to feel pressure to tell me an “amazing” story.  If the story is interesting to them, it is worth me hearing.  Not every story will be equally interesting to me.  Just like every book, or every TV show, is not equally interesting to me.  But just because it isn’t my thing doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it.

Keep in mind that I haven’t tested any of this yet.  Right now I’m all talk, and I could be completely wrong in every single way.  But I needed to write something today in order to complete my personal one-a-day challenge. (excluding weekends)  I may never even get around to starting the idea I have in my head, but what would life be without dreams?  Hmmm  maybe that is a topic for another post.  That could be some interesting rambling right there.