Note: We’ve written this for everyone to follow so we can develop a certain degree of consistency, but it’s also obviously open to improvisation. If you have any advice for an effective interview, please add to the bullet points below. The interview questions to be featured for each webinar are drawn from the event program (under construction here).
Webinar Format and preparation process
- Each webinar features an existing initiative or experience. Each consists of a 10 minutes pre-recorded video interview (also used to promote the webinar) + a deep Q&A with the protagonists of the experience being featured. Videos to be produced by @estragon with input from a copywriter (and in practice some low level editing).
- This work culminates in a larger event, a summit, to be held online one month after the completed production of the webinar and promo videos. (subject to the lifting of travel restrictions).
- What kind of content/ audience is this directed towards: To get a sense of the quality and audience, have a look at this session we did on a different topic.
How to produce the webinar
Instructions adapted from the template produced by Ben Vickers in connection with Lote3
1. Do an Interview over video chat
- upt to Max 60 minute minute audio recordings plus interview transcript
- In each, asking the same set of questions.
- Each audio should also contain an additional 5-10 minutes free form conversation led by the interviewee.
- Make sure that you record the whole conversation with excellent audio and save in a standard format audio file.
- Make sure that you have secured a signature on our digital consent form from the interviewee before you leave the conversation (ask @kajafarszky to help you set up a digital consent form).
2. Guide to achieving a good interview
In order to achieve the best outcome from an interviewee it’s important to familiarise yourself with the work of the person you’re interviewing before hand, at very least read the about section on their website.
- Make sure you have the technical set up for good audio and video. Talk to @estragon for help with this.
- Spend 5-15 minutes at least talking with the person you’re going to interview before the interview starts, so you’re comfortable with one another and they can respond in a relaxed way on camera.
- It is essential to have a clean recording of the voice with minimum background noise. (Always use a good microphone, even if just earbuds. Never use the laptop mic. Use a quiet room with no other talking and no street noise. Be mindful that you are recording - avoid coughs, throat clearing, saying “um” and “you know” too often. If you have time, do a quick dry run to ensure that all parties are properly set up.)
- Make sure they’re aware that the audio and transcript is going to be put online and shared within the Edgeryders network and further afield, so that they know the scope of their audience in advance, (fairly specialised but with the desire to share further).
- Give them a sense of the questions you’re going to be asking before hand so they can think ahead - but also familiarise them with the intended output of the video so they can be conscious of it when responding to the questions (this will make editing easier later). Explain that specifically for these videos we intend to chop up some of the footage as well as producing a standalone video of them - we plan to create a combination video of individuals responding to the question at the centre of the summit theme.
- Upon asking the initial question “Tell me about your project and work”, if they stop short use the other questions “How did you get started”, “What are the core objectives” to bulk out the response, hopefully though individuals will understand the need to give a good 2-3 minute overview of their work.
- Allow 5 second breaks between questions, continued conversation makes it difficult to edit later.
- Try to phrase your questions in a way that the interviewee needs to include the context in their response, which will make it much more useful when editing. i.e. the question “Why did you choose radioactive monkeys as a subject for your experiments?” might elicit the response “because I like the way they glow” which is not a very informative sentence without the context of the question. However, this question is better: “I’d like to know what led to you working with radioactive monkeys - can you tell me about some of the reasons behind this decision?” Here the interviewee cannot begin their sentence with a ‘because’ and they’re less likely to use a pronoun to talk about the monkeys, because I mentioned them too far back in my question.
3. Interview questions
The standard questions:
- Tell me about your project/work?
- How you got started.
- Who’s involved.
- What your main objectives are.
- What does the concept of (…Add topic relevant to their work/the event here) mean to you?
- What do you believe are the most important projects internationally that related to ( topic relevant to their work and the context/event ) a in this moment?
Potential additional questions:
- What question did I not ask that you think is important and you’d like to respond to?
- What does (key big theme we are exploring) mean in this moment?
- What are the fundamental lessons from the past that we can learn from now?
- What is an example of a heroic act in this moment?
4. How to deliver the webinar content
- Send the audio file to an online transcription service
- Send the video recording + audio file + transcript file to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
How to approach people you want to interview
Email template text for explaining the process and why it makes sense to do this:
Subject: Following up on our exchange on (twitter, linked in , fb etc) re: interviewing you about (their topic/topic of session)
Do you have time at some point between now and … for a remote interview, followed by a q&A in the form of responding to a few questions in comments from other participants ahead of the workshop in a moderated thread on our online forum? Realistically it would be something like 2.5 hrs in total.
What we/I do is finding find people who are doing work we believe is important and have aligned values and complimentary goals. Cut down the investment of time and effort for them to discover and understand one another’s work. To make it easy we do an in depth interview that is more in conversation form. Then transcribe and do a first edit into a skeleton post for the interviewee to edit till they are happy, and when they are ready they post it under their own name.
Then our community managers draw the attention of others who have complimentary interests, needs, skills and or access to people who might: and the other way around. People read one another and post questions and answers through comments. Our community managers and research team reads/processes the conversations that develop, to find common ground between people having many separate conversations happening in parallel. We also have hired staff to scouting relevant opportunities to support people’s work. These includes proposing joint applications to specific research grants or building financially viable projects to support long term work on issues. For methodology: see here (ignore “course fee”: community and activists have free access).
We have been doing this work since 2013. At present the community of people who are connecting this way on and offline is around 5000 people in +80 countries. It is an open, self-selecting network of people and diverse in the true sense of the word - but people who participate tend to be bright, curious, friendly and committed to the common good.
If you are up for this, let me know when might work for you?
Your name and affiliation with Edgeryders