Episode Twelve ‘The Outerview’ – Jarlath Regan

“The Outerview” is a podcast on the art of media interviewing. Each episode I look to explore what it takes to conduct the perfect interview from dissecting classic interviews to discussing techniques with some of the worlds leading broadcasters, podcasters and journalists. This week my guest is Jarlath Regan.

London based Jarlath is a comedian and creator of the award-winning Irishman Abroad Podcast, a series of weekly conversations interviewing Irish people about their lives and insights into the experiences of Irish people abroad.

To listen back to past episodes, you can find our archive here

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Improve your show prep with this dinner party trick

Are you struggling to get the best out of your show prep? Finding it hard to get your team to reveal some great stories?

There is a wonderful lifestyle blog called a ‘Cup of Jo‘ which I like to browse through every now and then when looking for inspiration. In a recent post author Joanna Goddard described how while at a dinner party it’s host requested that all diners partake in a round table ‘Ice Breaker’. Initially they all shuddered at the thought but surprisingly it would reveal a whole host of conversation starters.

Goddard revealed.

“She asked us to go around the table and share three fun facts about ourselves. Sitting to her right, I was the first person to go. I scrambled to come up with offbeat stories and ended up spouting random things: “Um, I have a twin sister… Uh, I don’t drink coffee?”

She added.

“But by the time we got halfway around the table, people had warmed up and were telling EPIC tales. One woman could remember everything she’d done every day of her life (but never realized that was weird until she saw a 60 Minutes piece on endless memory). Another woman had married her husband twice — first at 20, then they divorced at 21, then re-married at 22. A third woman revealed that she had spent years working as the personal assistant to a major celebrity. The party was a huge success — we were laughing so much, and people shared things that would have never otherwise come up. It was the ultimate conversation starter. Every contribution sparked a dozen more questions, and the game lasted the whole night”

Who would have thought something as simple as a quick ice breaker question would reveal so much about the company that Goddard was keeping. Sometimes in the daily grind of things you forget to sit around as a team and ask some simple questions.

So in your show prep team meeting tomorrow why not share three fun facts about yourself. You never know what might be revealed?

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.

Photo by Kevin Curtis.

MMA Journalist Ariel Helwani on how to kickstart your career

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the world’s most successful MMA journalists Ariel Helwani for my podcast “The Outerview”. While our conversation was focused mostly on the art of interviewing, Helwani offered some great advice on how to approach potential mentors in media.

“A lot of people do email me and I’m somewhat disheartened if I’m being honest, by what they write. Because they say to me, “I would love to be an MMA journalist, what do I have to do? “,  “Can I come work for you?”, “Can I come work for your site?”, “How did you get started?”, and to me, if I’m going to reach out to someone who I look up to or I want advice from, I will do my research first and I feel like my story has been told enough times now where you can get a sense for “Okay, what was my road to this point”, and maybe then you read the interviews and then maybe you can ask a few follow up questions, but to be honest, when I started that website, it was fairly easy for me to come up with the idea, “Okay, what do I have to do?”

Helwani adds.

“We live in an age where people are accessible, so everyday I decided that I was going to write 30 to 50 Myspace messages,  just wrote to fighters, and you know, if one or two responded, great! Now I have one or two interviews, and all I was trying to do was get one interview out a day, because I love the art of interviewing. I love talking to people. To me, you give me a room with two chairs, a desk, maybe two cups of water, and that to me is the greatest set in the world. I realised that “Okay, let me reach out to these guys and put out these interviews”, and so when people reach out to me, it’s like “Okay, what do you want to do? Be different”. Look at everyone else, be different, what’s your style, and so sometimes I feel like, you know if I’m being honest, I feel like the younger generation is a little lazy and they want someone to just hold their hand and tell them exactly what to do and give them the big opportunity, but it doesn’t work that way. I’m still scratching and clawing. I’m still trying to make it as well. Sometimes it’s good, but sometimes I will say “Oh my gosh, you know, you could’ve looked it up and come at me with some better first questions to make this good first impression”.

It might sound like simple advice but you would be amazed at the amount of media students who reach out to me on a regular basis who want to take the short cut and land the big gig straight out of college. Helwani’s advice of doing your research and figuring out what initial direction you want to take will stand you in good stead. No one is going to hold your hand and give you the big gig. But there are those who will give a helping hand and point you in the right direction. You’re going to have to graft to stand out.

So what’s your first step?

You can hear the full interview with Ariel below or via iTunes here.

How to deal with silence from Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is one of the most controversial figures in the sporting world. His recent interview on Newstalk’s Off The Ball revealed a fascinating insight into his character, but the 30 minute interview also showcased one incredibly important lesson that has put the fear of god into broadcasters over the years. The fear of silence.

In the clip below listen to an absolute stunning moment (at 11min 40 secs) where interviewer Ger Gilroy asks Armstrong a well researched, smartly constructed, hard hitting question. Armstrong answers, Gilroy not satisfied with the question continues to probe and is greeted by silence.

Now for what feels like an eternity the interviewer could have panicked, broke the tension and tried to approach the question from another angle but didn’t. He was brave enough to use the silence to his advantage and put Armstrong on the back foot. It’s a broadcasting masterclass from Ger Gilroy.

Next time you’re faced with an uncomfortable silence, enjoy it. The world hasn’t stopped, you haven’t committed a broadcasting sin. In fact used sparingly, silence can grab attention and make the listener turn you up. Everyone loves a little bit of tension and in the case of this interview there was only one person who didn’t enjoy the silence and that was Armstrong himself.

Photo by Sebastian David Tingkær

Views expressed do not represent the view of RTÉ.