“You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves.” ~Galileo
As a publicist, I get to watch a lot of interviews, which means I watch people ask a lot of questions. Whether it’s print, TV, or radio, I’ve they’ve run the gamut, from funny questions, factual questions, a few bad or misplaced questions to insightful questions. Insightful questions are the ones that can scare me the most as a publicist. The person answering can really go off the deep end with those sometimes which is never good. However, as a journalism student, these are the ones I love, the ones I can’t wait to hear answered because the person answering didn’t prepare and you can usually tell a lot about them in those few quick moments.
On a recent radio tour with two of our authors, one a country star and the other a very prominent songwriter, I heard my favorite question asked.
As I said, normally these types of questions scare me a bit, especially when you’re dealing with a well known author. In those cases, you have the questions already planned. The interviewer has a list of questions he/she can ask as well as a list of what is off the table to ask. Everything has to be planned. Luckily for me, the question was asked of the singer by the songwriter, a friend of his, in the few spare moments as they were checking the mics and lining up the stations on the phone lines.
I was in the sound room talking with the producers, publisher and marketing director, not really listening to the chit chat the mic was picking up of the conversation in the next room. Then all the sudden I noticed the whole mood of the conversation changed. The singer was talking about faith, family, what he has learned in life and what he wished he could tell others.
“He (the songwriter) asked him what he would say to the graduating class of his high school if he were to go back and give the graduation speech,” she said, not even looking at me and trying to catch every word of this conversation.
What a great question. I decided then that songwriters would make excellent journalists. I never really thought about it before but these writers have to know who they are writing for so well. With that one odd question, the singer who was used to all the same bland, scripted questions and was used to giving an automatic response, opened up. In a few short sentences, you knew what meant most to him.
So…forget the dinner party, rowboat and even the desert island question. I wanted to ask those closest to me as well as those who I’ve met through blogging, “If you could go back to your high school to tell the class of 2010 something…what would it be?”
During May, the graduation month, I will have guest posts from new friends and tried and true friends, young and old, people who inspire, people who teach, people who make me smile, and people who are passionate about life, all answering that question. I can’t wait to share these with you! Like me, you probably didn’t pay much attention to your high school graduation speaker but you’re going to love these.
Isn’t the saying, I wish I knew then what I knew now? Think of how much you’ve learned since high school. What would you tell the students?