Want to know more about me? Go ahead. Ask me anything. Ask me where I went to school. Ask my age. Ask where I live. Ask about my family? Sure, they're all basic questions that have merit. Routine questions? Yep. Routine answers? Probably. Sure, they're all basic questions that have merit. But remember the opening question? No, not the one about where I went to school. The first question: Want to know more about me? When you're writing a profile, it's all about peeling back the surface layers (ie. beyond those routine questions and answers about age, employment, family, hobbies) and getting to know more about what drives a person's personality. When we do this, we're investing in a person's character. We're committing ourselves to give readers more by giving them the opportunity to get to know a person. The ultimate compliment for any profile is having a reader remark, "I feel as though I've gotten to know this person" after reading your story. Readers don't get to 'know' a person when we report only age, occupation, home town, etc. We're not reporting to fill out a bank form to open a new account -- a process we all know is boring and time consuming. You need more. Think back to high school. We discovered more about a person's personality by reading a yearbook. Plenty could be crammed into that 30-word blurb next to your graduation photo. Next time you do an interview, and the situation is right, throw some Q.U.O.T.E at your subject and they might give you a gem. This approach is especially effective for profiles. The Q.U.O.T.E Approach is effective because it involves questions where the answers can't be rehearsed beforehand. Your subject will have to look to his/her inner self to answer. It may take a minute. There may be silence for an extended period. That's OK. That's exactly what we want. We want the subject to dig deep for an answer. Obviously, I'm not suggesting you throw Q.U.O.T.E in every interview. Pick the time and the subject. Develop a whole list of Q.U.O.T.E questions that you can keep handy. The possibilities are endless. Yes, as journalists, we need to be serious and professional. But we also need to put our subjects at ease . . . and become candid. Think Q.U.O.T.E.
1. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Why? 2. If you could be one animal, what would it be? Why? 3. What kind of car do you drive? Some say a car reflects their personality. What do you think your car says about your personality? 4. If you were on a desert island, what three CDs would you take along and why? 5. Describe your ideal vacation? 6. Some people have bumper stickers on their car that reads, I'd Rather Be Sailing. What would your bumper sticker read.... I'd Rather Be. . . ? 7. In high school, you would have been considered the person most likely to. . . 8. If you won the lottery today, describe your life six months from now? 9. If you could be in any other profession, what would it be? 10. If you were prime minister, what's the first thing you'd do to make life better in Canada?