Why “Tell Me Your Story” Doesn’t Work | The Ambush Group

Here’s a common interviewer/interviewee situation: You find the story, scout the location, rent the gear and set up for the shoot. You do all that work to begin with, “Now, tell me your story.” And your interview goes to hell.

When you get back to review the footage you realize you have all concrete details and no heart. Or maybe you have a “story” full of specifics only interesting to the individual on camera. Or maybe – and this is QUITE possible – none of it makes any sense because they’re only using the word “you” as opposed to “I.”

Asking an interviewee to “tell their story” is synonymous with asking me to work on your car, which I cannot do. The individual who’s story you’re sharing is not a storytelling professional. They have no experience crafting a story. So, they should not be given the responsibility.

That’s YOUR job.

When I interview, my responsibility is to guide the conversation. I know story structure, so my questions (decided ahead of time) do just that. Take Bronco here. I wanted him to talk about his childhood, so I gave him this:

“Talk to me about growing up in a neglectful home. What’s that like?” Questions like this ensure I’m getting each part of the story. Otherwise, I’m at the mercy of HIS storytelling skills which are far inferior.

Let go of, “Tell me your story,” and take full advantage of the power of ‘guiding the conversation.’ You’ll be quite a bit happier in the editing room.

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