Embrace the silences. This is something that even radio journalists advised. Gina Delvac, who’s a public radio producer and reporter, explains, “Silence can be an asset. This is less true with newsmakers or overly practiced public speakers. But often on a personal or sensitive topic, the best moments come when you let a question float a beat too long. Dick Gordon and his team at The Story have a moment like this nearly every show. Someone hesitates, then a perfect phrase or moment of emotion crystallizes.”

Think in soundbites. This is another radio-centric tip from Delvac that can be applied to print journalism too. “Soundbites get a bad rap,” she says. “This is another way of saying, don’t get so wrapped up in a great conversation that you forget to get a really juicy quote. Once or twice, I’ve had a really lively conversation with someone, and realized afterward, I could summarize their ideas beautifully, but didn’t have that phrase that really captured the moment.”

Play dumb. Especially on deadline, you might find yourself out of your depth. Just go with it. Delvac suggests a standby radio question: “Explain it to me like I’m a (really precocious) kindergartner.”

Oh, and finally, “Keep the mic running after you finish,” Linsky says. “Listen. All the time.”


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Ann Friedman is a magazine editor who loves the internet. She lives in Los Angeles