It's my story: helping care-experienced young people give effective media interviews
Feeling in control during the interview
Now on to the interview itself. You may want to show these slides alongside an interview exercise, or before or after it. (How to practise interviews includes suggestion topics for interview exercises.) This will depend on how you are structuring the training. On a one-day training course you may want to give young people a chance to try out interviews at different points during the day, rather than only at the end. The slides can then be used to reinforce or develop the experiential learning.
The first point on Slide 16 has already been covered but it is worth reminding young people of the importance of sticking to their agenda (in the way they did during the Great British Breakfast Exercise).
They may choose to answer some questions – or aspects of questions – asked by the interviewer but above all they are there to get their key message/s across. They should never wait for the right question to come up but introduce their key messages at the very first available opportunity.
To do this they may need to use the ABC technique. ABC stands for Acknowledge, Bridge and Control.
What this means is:
- You acknowledge the interviewer’s question: ‘That’s an interesting issue …
- You then create a bridge to where you really want to go – the word ‘but’ is often the best way to do this.
- You take control by talking about your agenda/key message: ‘… what I really want to get across is that young people in care should be treated just the same as other teenagers’.
The ABC exercise
This will help you explain the ABC technique to young people, using the metaphor of changing trains. You can explain the concept with a flipchart or, best of all, get the young people acting this out.
The flipchart version
Draw two trains, one going up Track A and one coming down Track C. Draw a passenger on the train. This passenger is the person being interviewed. Explain that the interviewer’s question is ‘driving the train’ in a particular direction – which is different from where the interviewee wants to go.
The interviewee doesn’t want to be a passenger, so they jump off the train (not recommended safe practice!) and run across the bridge. On the other track, Train C is heading in a different direction. They then jump into the cab of Train C and drive it away: they are now in control of the interview.
The role play version
This can be a really fun thing to do (adults and young people seem to love this exercise as it allows them to behave like big kids). Ask two young people to play the trains that are travelling in different directions. Get them to puff up and down a bit. Ask a third young person to play the passenger/interviewee – who then jumps off Train A, runs across the imaginary bridge and takes control of Train C.
As you draw or get the young people to act this out, describe how this relates to an interview situation. For example:
Interviewer: ‘So do you think there is a lot of pressure for young people living on the street to join gangs?’
Interviewee: ‘That’s an interesting question (Acknowledge) … but (Bridge) what we feel is the real issue here is that young people leaving care should never end up homeless in the first place, so (Control) what we want to see is a new law to …’
Staying in control
It is important for young people not to let the interviewer put words in their mouth. The interviewer will not necessarily do this as a trap but as a way or summarising the argument.
So, if the interviewer says: ‘What you are saying, then, is that it’s natural for all young children in care to have difficult behaviour?’ the young person being interviewed might reply: ‘No – what I’m saying is that it’s not unusual for young children to be mischievous and for children in care to be like other children.’
The broken-record technique can be useful. This simply means repeating a point over again – maybe using slightly different wording. For example, ‘As I said before, many young children are a bit mischievous and children in care are no different from them.’
Staying in control is probably the most important thing to aim for. Young people are experts on their own lives and know much more about this subject than the interviewer, so they should not feel intimidated in any way. While they are being interviewed they should consider themselves VIPs – they are just as important as any celebrity who gives an interview!
How to keep to your agenda
- Be absolutely clear of your key messages
- Don’t wait for the right question
- Use the ABC technique
- Don’t let the interviewer put words in your mouth
- Use the broken record technique
- Be active and take control