The purpose of this recent meetup was to hone our interviewing skills, so that we could generate raw material for stories, articles, blogs, etc., by talking to other people.

We started right away with a writing exercise. Everyone was paired up with another group member. Each person had to brainstorm interview questions that they would ask their partner. Then we conducted interviews with each other.

Following that exercise, we each wrote a 100- to 200-word introduction to our partner. This is how we got to know each other and get started with the Clinic.

After that, we talked about interviewing skills – what they are and why they’re important. We talked about the difference between open-ended and close-ended questions, along with how and when to use them.

Then we did another writing exercise. I passed out a list of closed-ended questions and asked group members to rewrite them into open-ended questions. We shared the results with each other. There were different variations, but all of them were good rewrites.

We ended with another exercise. I gave group members an article to read. I think it was a story from Bloomberg. After reading the article, group members wrote a list of questions the writer would have had to ask to get all the information for the story. In particular, they had to identify the direct and paraphrased quotes, then list questions that would have led to the answers the interviewees gave.