With 240 celebrity interviews under his belt as the host of NBC’s Late Night, Seth Meyers knows a thing or two about getting people to open up. (That is the gig, after all.) In the latest installment of BuzzFeed Brews with CBS This Morning taped Monday, Meyers sat down with BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti to share his key tips for celebrity interviews.
Jeff Bridges might not grace you with his presence anytime soon, but the tips Meyers offered will come in handy next time you meet a power player like Saeed Amidi. Here’s how Meyers does it:
Start With a Compliment
Peretti was clearly nervous about interviewing the former host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, so he jokingly asked Meyers for a great opening. “Anything where you can start by saying, ‘I saw you in ‘blank’ and it was great,’ that’s really good,” Meyers quipped. It also helps to remember the subject’s name and credentials. Lead with a compliment–and sound informed–and you’re sure to put your subject at ease.
Do Your Homework
When you’re trying to make a point or land funding, it never hurts to jot down what you’d like to say. “Everyone who’s a guest on talk shows is a different kind of guest,” said Meyers. “I was a certain kind of guest when I was on talk shows. I always wanted to know what I was gonna say. I wrote it out beforehand. I wanted the host of the talk show to ask me very specific things to set up either stories or jokes that I wanted to tell.” Asked whether that was working this time, Meyers smiled and said he’d hit all his talking points.
Whether you’re meeting a macher or someone who merely thinks they are, encourage them with a real compliment. “With [someone like] Jeff Bridges at the end, you say ‘thank you so much for coming,’ because you know, you feel as though he’s graced you with his presence,” said Meyers, “whereas with [lesser-known talent like the folk-comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates], it was really important for me to say, ‘you guys were outstanding–that was a really great interview.'” A little confidence-booster will make someone more comfortable.
Awkward moments are inevitable, but try your best to limit them–at least on your end. “I don’t mind if it’s the guest is making things awkward, because there’s a certain charm to that,” Meyers said. But when it comes to the interview itself, “I should be better at it than them, because I get to do it so often.” Know what’s expected of you in an interview, and play that part–just like Meyers does every night.