I’m one of those people that gets stuck talking- I should say listening- to strangers bang on about their lives for hours.
An old boss of mine, who saw this happen to me a few times gave me this advice:
“I used to be like you”, he said, “getting trapped in conversations until I realised that you have to stop nodding. When you’ve had enough at being talked at, stop nodding”.
It’s great advice, which of course, I’ve never been ballsy enough to actually do.
Thankfully, nodding is a handy interview trick you can use during your audio interviews. I'd say it's probably the best things you can do in an interview because:
1. Nodding encourages the interviewee to keep talking.
You want your interviewee to really open up and share their story with you. It's often in the silences after your interviewee has said something and you're just nodding and not talking that the interviewee will keep talking. These are the moments where you'll get the authentic answers you've been waiting for.
2. Nodding says to the interviewee, I understand you, I get you.
You want your interview subjects to feel comfortable. As an interviewer you wield this power because you can let the interviewee feel like they are being heard. We hardly ever feel like people truly hear us. So when people feel like we're being heard, they say things about themselves that they've never said before.
3. Nodding is silent, you can't hear it on tape.
You should try not to use the words that we use in normal conversations to signal to people that we are listening (e.g. "yeah", "yes", "mmmmmm") during your audio interviews because as I have done numerous times, your "yeah" is said over the top of the best bit of the interview and you can't use the tape. There are no tape issues is you just whip your head back and forth.