The power of Questions – Larry King

Larry King, while a celebrity in the US, is not a much known name in India. I first heard his name, and the story, in his audio book – How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication – that was read by Larry himself.

If you have ever read about Larry King or seen a few of 60000+ interviews he has done in his more than 60 years of broadcasting career, several things would stand out that would have led to his tremendous success:

1) Be in the moment. Be genuinely interested in the person sitting across you. Larry comes to the shows with no written questions or the agenda – it’s his genuine interest and the willingness and ability to get under the skin of the person sitting across him that makes him, and his interviews, so special. You always leave a bit more informed about the interviewee!

2) Understand the power of questions – there are open ended, which take a bit of effort to frame, than the other kind, the closed ended ones. And then there are good ones, and outright terrible ones (having won, how do you feel?)! And then there are the Larry King type of questions – the ones that aim to get under your skin, in your head, make you think hard, sometimes uncomfortable, and reveal a nugget that will make it all worthwhile. And it is these kind of questions that cannot be planned – they only come out of genuine listening, and genuine interest in the person sitting across you.

3) Somebody – one of his many interviewees – once remarked that Larry made the camera disappear! He was so much into the moment, made the interviewee think, made the situation comfortable, that they often forgot they were being in front of several cameras!

Can you use these things in your daily life? You sure can!

Asking your daughter when you see her in the evening – how was your day? The answer is likely to be one-word. Versus, asking her – what’s the best thing that happened to you in your whole day? Did any of the teachers in your class today spoke directly to you? Gave you feedback? What didn’t go very well during the day?

This is based on a podcast episode featuring the interview of Larry King by Cal Fussman, on the Tim Ferriss show. Link here:

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