🤐 Interviewing: How to cut-off Elon Musk (politely) when he's talking too much...

Ft. Elon Musk and Chris Anderson

Elon Musk fell down a rambling rabbit-hole during a fireside chat at TED 2022. Chris Anderson (TED’s head) attempted to save him 9 times with various facial expressions and body language cues. They were all ignored; so he deployed a different tactic....

The politest way to interrupt a rambling guest?

The word ‘and.’

This might sound trivial, but it’s emotionally intelligent genius 🧠.

It’s hard enough when we’re in conversation with someone who can’t stop talking, let alone when you’re on the global stage interviewing one of the most powerful people on the planet.

Elon Musk is one of the hardest people to interview in the world.

He’s unpredictable, intimidatingly smart and often accepts interview requests at the very last minute [less time for interviewers to prep?].

Get it wrong, and your interview could gain notoriety for all the wrong reasons.*

In the heat of the moment, (despite every bone in his body urging him to scream ‘shut up Elon!’) Chris Anderson nailed it. As you’ll see in this 40 second clip.

Three things to take from this clip…

  1. Never be afraid to interrupt your guest if they fall down a rabbit hole 🐇.
    If they do, it is your responsibility to pull them back out and quickly.

    Do it for you, for them and most importantly of all your audience.

  2. ‘And’ is facilitative (‘but’ isn’t) 🧠
    It allowed the dynamic of the conversation to continue, unlike a word like ‘But’ which implies confrontation, or interrupting with their name, which would cause the conversation to come to a halt.

    Very difficult to do in the heat of the moment.

  3. Trust your gu, I mean your ears… 👂
    If you’ve stopped listening, there’s a very good chance your audience has too. Act quickly.

Got a preferred way to take back control of a panel/interview? I’d love to hear it!


Alex

P.s. * A bonus clip… Here’s what happens when an interview with Elon goes horribly wrong 😬.

The story you didn’t hear in the press?

The journalist was given an hour’s notice for the interview (including travel time).

The twist? Despite being excruciating to watch, it wasn’t a career ending interview, it was a career making one. The journalist, James Clayton got promoted for landing it in the first place :-).

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