Use Q&A to Spice Up One-Person Interviews

Do you have an article scheduled for an upcoming issue of your association magazine or a social media post that requires an interview with an industry expert, association board member, or high-profile member? Use a Q&A format to make the article stand out from typical feature articles.

The key to a compelling Q&A article that catches readers’ attention and keeps them on the page is a combination of interesting person or topic and brevity. One professional communicator offers five tips to ensure the best results for your Q&A article. Here’s a summary of her tips:

  1. Keep the article short to be sure you don’t wear out your welcome with the reader – even if you are fascinated by the topic and person.
  2. Focus on one particular aspect of the subject – which helps you keep the article short.
  3. Ask unexpected questions to stimulate the interviewee to give interesting answers and keep readers reading.
  4. Vary the pace by following long answers with short ones in the finished piece.
  5. Edit aggressively to keep the article short, focused, and filled with the most interesting bits of information.

Rowan University’s journalism students were given these examples for Q&A articles that you might find interesting. Note that each example includes a well-crafted introduction that sets the stage for the Q&A and includes background information that lets the reader know why he or she will find the article interesting.

Looking for design ideas for your Q&A?  There are a number of different layout ideas in this Pinterest collection that might provide inspiration.

Most importantly – remember that Q&A-style articles are a “break” in routine for most publications. While a regular column, such as a “meet your association leaders,” is okay to run each issue, don’t default to Q&A for all or many other articles or it becomes the norm rather than a surprising change.