Thoughts & Ideas

The Art of Asking Questions

One of the most valuable skills available to an artist is the ability to ask really good questions that produce a response, thus inspiring discourse, imagination and productivity.

As an artist, asking questions is one of my core foundations in crafting structure, as well as generating visual ideas for a final project. Whether I am creating an identity for a business, editing a documentary film, or preparing for a photo shoot, the questions that I ask directly impact the outcome.

As I wade through hours of interview footage that I have conducted over the course of the past several months, I realize how my interviewing techniques can be improved upon to produce stronger results.

Keep it simple.
Eliminate multiple-part questions. Word questions in terms that your subject will understand. By keeping questions simple, you avoid long-winded responses and help the interviewee remain comfortable. Have questions that relate specifically to the interviewee’s relationship to the subject matter.

Be prepared.
By being prepared, you not only better understand your subject matter, but you are better able to craft questions based on the interviewee’s knowledge of the subject. Knowledgeable questions create an atmosphere of respect because you have taken the time to understand the interviewee’s expertise.

Don’t make assumptions.
In the art of asking questions, there are no stupid questions. By not making assumptions, you help to put your subjects at ease, as well as show that you have researched and prepared for the interview ahead of time.

Be relaxed.
How can you help your subjects be at ease? Be relaxed. Most people are going to be nervous about how you present their image and if you are nervous, that will increase their anxiety level. Regardless of whether a camera is involved, or even a tape recorder, your job is to ensure that no matter what they say, you will present their image in an accurate and truthful manner. Be conversational in your approach. Pay attention and respond.

These are just a few thoughts on how you can have an immediate impact on the quality of responses that you receive from asking questions. I will definitely be applying these to my own interviewing techniques and look forward to sharing the results in future projects.

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