On Wednesday I had the chance to sit down with Julia Gillard, Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, when she was in town for a community cabinet. I’ve met her before but never had the chance to ask her questions other than in a media scrum (where TV news crews seem to take precedence). There had been mention that an interview might be possible a couple of days prior, but it wasn’t actually confirmed until the 11th hour. As a journo my political views are irrelevant and I tend to avoid those discussions as a rule, but meeting the PM is kind of awesome regardless.
1. Wear something that breathes and comfortable shoes. It is hot in Brisbane at the moment and we were put in a tiny little room with no open windows, no fan and no air-con for our interview. Add to that my nervousness and suffice to say I was pretty sweaty. But I did wear a cotton shirt so things could have been a lot worse. Oh and it was a 12-hour day for me so I was pretty thankful for my comfy wedges by the end.
2. Ask short, succinct questions (and expect well-rehearsed, political answers). If you listened to the audio above, you probably noticed my first question was way too drawn out and could have been asked in about half the time. Keep questions brief so there’s more time for comment. Remember to prepare follow-up questions because it’s likely your original question will be dodged (like my second question was).
3. Don’t get tunnel vision. So did you notice half-way through someone mentioned Wayne Swan was ‘sitting next to us’? Yeah, that actually meant he was trying to sit at the table, but I was so focused on my questions for the PM, I had my back to him and was blocking him out of the conversation. Sorry Swanny.
4. Take it all in. Noting as many details and comments from the interview gives you a better opportunity to add color to your story.
5. Throw a funny question in there – even politicians have a sense of humor. Check out the article online to see what I mean.