Studies have shown that the actual words account for only about 7 percent of communication between two people, according to Amy Herdy of the University of Colorado. Body language makes up 55 percent of communication, with tone accounting for the other 38 percent, she told journalists during a recent IRE Better Watchdog Workshop in Denver. For instance, she said, reporters and producers should not approach a reluctant source with a notebook or microphone in hand. Be aware that the tools of the trade can intimidate sources. Persuade them to be interviewed first, and only later pull out the notebook or digital recorder. “Remember that the interview is not about you,” Herdy said. “It’s all about the source.” Besides considering the best initial approach and the effect of nonverbal signals, journalists can sharpen their skills by talking to police and attorneys about their interviewing techniques, according to co-panelist Deborah Sherman of 9News-KUSA in Denver. Among the other tips from Herdy and Sherman:
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