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“My Interviewee is Crying. What do I do?!”

By Adam Bush on October 5, 2017

It’s inevitable. You’re sitting there interviewing a member of your church and you round the corner to the most tense part of the interview(i.e. a divorce, the death of a loved one, etc) and it happens: your lead starts crying. You start thinking back to documentaries you’ve seen where people being interviewed were crying on camera, but you’ve never actually been in the room with this happening. It’s uncomfortable!

If you’re like me, your knee jerk reaction is to tell them it’s okay, stop recording and allow them to gain composure. There’s a problem, though, you’ll ruin the take. So, in that moment you have to do something brave. You have to let it ride.

“Isn’t this exploiting my lead’s emotional moment?”

No. Here are two reasons why.

  1. Before I even interviewed Lee, (our storyteller in The Story Guide class) I talked to him about the possibility that he might break down. I asked him if he was comfortable with it. He was. Now, I am.
  2. We have to understand what this moment is. When someone breaks down it’s a way for them to communicate that this moment MEANS SOMETHING. Think about it. When you see someone moved to tears, it moves you! Therefore, you’ve made a new connection.

Stories include facts and emotion. When someone communicates emotionally, it’s powerful and as long as it’s not being forced, it’s authentic. Authenticity will win every time and the more you can train yourself to allow those moments to happen, the easer they’ll become and the more real your storyteller will come across.

During our interview, Lee became emotional as he talked about the moment his wife left with his boys. You’re a Story Guide student you can watch that part of the raw interview in BTS Part 1 of The Interview lesson and experience how I “let it ride.”

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