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The moment interview: how to enhance your storytelling skills

Torben Brandt demonstrates, in a live in-practice exercise, how to help your interviewee navigate their memories to bring their story to life.

 

For Torben Brandt, editor-in-chief at P1 DR, storytelling is rooted in memories and flashbacks. The Danish radio professional developed his own method - the ‘Moment Interview’ - about storytelling on radio. On the floor of the conference room, various pieces of paper were spread around with phrases such as “I feel guilty of” and “I felt so awkward”. This was meant to evoke in the audience a specific flashback associated with the wording. 

Diana, who attended the conference, joined the radio professional on stage to participate in the exercise and took on the role of the interviewee. Brandt reassured her: “This is not an interview. We will work together on telling your story. You’re responsible for me understanding your story”.

The sitting position is crucial when applying this method in an interview. Brandt sat next to the volunteer instead of in front. This way, he was not only close to her, but the microphone position was ideal: two centimeters away, next to her face, creating an intimate environment. “I want to get close, because I want to have a very crispy front”, he explains, “Never put it in front of the face”.

“In my stories I don’t want the subject crying, but I want the listener to cry all the time”

To spur her on in her recollections, Brandt asks minimal questions, bringing up things the interviewee might’ve mentioned so she can elaborate on them. “In my stories I don’t want the subject crying, but I want the listener to cry all the time”, he says, “I want the story to be able to build. Who wants to listen to something comfortable for more than one minute?”.

By asking questions such as “What do you see from your point of view”, “What do you suggest would be the next scene?” and “What do you hear?” and maintaining eye contact, the Danish radio legend helped Diana navigate through her memories and flashbacks to bring her tragic story to life.

Written by Rita Silva and Beatriz Valente