Learning from Howard

by Juliana Trichilo Cina, jtcina.com

Hate him if you like, but Howard Stern runs one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen or heard. In fact, much of his success results from his natural ability to communicate. Sure he can string together a sentence and crack a joke, but his skill runs far deeper.

Ask anyone of his adoring fans and even many of his enemies – all will admit he’s an awesome interviewer. Two things make him so great.

  1. He asks questions about the tough stuff usually ignored in mainstream interviews (like drug addictions, domestic disputes, and of course, sexual details).
  2. He knows how to make any guest comfortable. (Yes, I did in fact say Howard Stern makes his guests comfortable.)

Asking the tough questions makes his interviews interesting. Making his guests comfortable makes asking the tough questions possible – and so part two is the strategic part with which I’m most impressed.

Stern has a knack for identifying what makes an individual most proud. Whether it’s a businessman or a lingerie model. And while I sometimes find it patronizing, his guests seem to fall for it every time. He praises and compliments his guests until they feel like he understands them. Once a guest feels understood and heard, Stern goes in for the real meat of the interview. Suddenly, guests will divulge things they might usually deny. Stern’s got strategy. And, guess what… it’s made his very successful.

Strategic communications is a powerful tool. Without it, Howard Stern would not be where he is today. In other words, communications strategy isn’t just for the boardroom. There are no boundaries to what you can accomplish with the right words.

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