NPR

Want To Know How To Ask Questions? Longtime Journalist Shows How It's Done In New Book

Here & Now's Lisa Mullins talks to author Dean Nelson about his new book "Talk To Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro."
"Talk To Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro," by Dean Nelson. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

With the rise of podcasting and the lack of civil conversation he was seeing around him, author and longtime journalist Dean Nelson (@deanenelson) says it struck him as a perfect time to write a book demystifying the art of asking others questions.

“It just felt like, well, I know something about it. I think the world needs it, and there is this rising interest in long, deep conversation, either through podcasts or I think just in civil life,” says Nelson, who recently released his new book, “Talk To Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro.”

Preparation ahead of time, asking open-ended questions, always recording yourself and your subject — there are a lot of factors that go into a good interview, says Nelson (@deanenelson). What’s especially important to keep in mind is “the difference between just sensationalizing and doing something because it’s important,” he says.

Sometimes, you really have to press forward in an interview to get at something,” Nelson tells Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins. “This is where the discernment comes in.

“Are you getting into some of this deeper, more complicated, maybe more uncomfortable stuff just because it’s an audience-getter and a ratings-getter, or are you doing it because it’s really important that we develop this.”

Interview Highlights

On how crucial it is to prepare for an interview

“I just was on somebody’s podcast just a day or two ago, and I was amazed at how well prepared this guy was. He knew what

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