Episode 56 : The Secret – They’ll Telling You Everything

by Ian · 2 comments

in Interview, Podcast

Your infatuation will cause them to open up

Great storytellers can draw you into their world of interests but most people need someone to be a provocateur to help them express themselves. That’s your role! It’s never an interview but a directed conversation where you keep the conversation on track through engagement.

But how to engage them?

Telling you everything in conversation

Engaged Conversation …via Chris Guillebeau on Flickr

It’s all about them!

If you’re interested in them, they’ll know it and want to tell you the stories. So your number one priority, is to be interested. No! More than that, you need to be fascinated, enthralled, infatuated in them and their story.

In this episode of  Create Your Life Story I’m reverse engineering my naturally recorded conversations from my other podcast Your Story. As I looked at the best of other interviewers and what I do, I’ve realised a few things that will help you engage with the person you’re recording, to help them to open up and express their story better.

For your sake you have to find that, “Something”

Andrew Denton from the ABC’s Enough Rope once mentioned an interview with the Danish Royal Couple, who he admits he’s not particularly interested in. He engaged in the interview but it failed because he hadn’t taken the time to find that “Something”, for him to be interested in.

No one else in your shared story

It's the world shared by the two of you …via K. Praslowicz (Sjixxxy) on Flickr

You have to find Something, that you’re fascinated in. If you can’t find it don’t start until you have. It may only be a small glint in a huge mullock heap but it’s that gem of interest that will provoke the questions and keen interest to dig further and develop a great conversation. While on that journey you’ll inevitably find other topics of interest but you need Something to get started.

Everyone has something fascinating about them which you have to discover to be interested in. Then they’ll know it and tell you everything. That’s the secret!

To break it down just a little, here are some of the many aspects of this:

  • Humility – It’s not about you
  • Show keenness to hear their opinions
  • Shut up – It’s still not about you
  • Remain actively engaged with non-verbals – Body language
  • Show that you’re thinking and absorbing what’s being said – Body language, facial expressions.
  • Proof of listening – Being able to pick up where you left off
  • Sensible thoughtful questions based on what they’ve said
  • Challenging questions to ask deeper questions
  • Challenge by playing devils advocate – “Some people would say…?”
  • Show respect for their opinion
  • Show that you’re interested – everyone wants to be interesting to others
  • Mention that you’d never thought of a new concept
  • Mention that it’s some interesting information that you can now explore
  • Want more information
  • Don’t bluff interest – If you try to fake it they’ll notice
  • If it’s boring you, stop and find the interest – if you’re bored so will the listeners be
  • Laugh when appropriate
  • Keep verbal sounds to a minimum – for the sake of the listener
  • Repeat their point (shows listening) and ask a deeper question to show desire for more interest in the topic
These general points are what the best of interviewers do to engage in conversations with people, helping them to relax and open up to talk of things that they often have difficulty in mentioning to anyone. Do the same and you’ll be amazed at what people will tell you.


  • Practice in general conversation – Find a topic and ask engaging questions
  • Pick up topics when interrupted
  • Find your most interesting topic in them before you start recording
  • Remain enamoured in them throughout the whole recording process

What are the conversations that you’ve had where someone has opened up to you?

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“my attention while they were on stage really fed and supported them”… What a great thing to be told!

It really shows the power of paying attention to someone that they can pick you out of a crowd while they’re busy simply being fully and responsively engaged! It’s a gift 🙂


I love what you are up to.
I know that what you’ve said here about paying full attention helps the other person open up.
I’ve experienced the same thing you describe with performers, lecturers etc coming to me and telling me that my attention while they were on stage really fed and supported them. And of course it’s that much more true in a one-on-one situation.

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