There can only be one Barbara Walters. But in an interview that will air on the upcoming ABC News special, "Barbara Walters: Her Story," the broadcasting legend shared some of the secrets behind her successful interviews, including her preparation process, how to bring celebrities to tears and why she asks her classic questions.
The two-hour ABC News special, "Barbara Walters: Her Story," highlighting her life and career will air TONIGHT at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Do Your Homework
"Well, the first thing I tell anybody who's going to be doing interviews is homework," Walters said of her interview preparation. "I do so much homework, I know more about the person than he or she does about himself."
Write Down As Many Questions as You Can
"Then, I write -- I can write fifty or a hundred questions, on little three by five cards. I put them in order. Then I throw some away. Then I put others in," said Walters.
She continued, "Then if anybody comes in, if you've come in to deliver the soup, I say, 'Do you, by the way, have any question that you'd like to ask so-and-so?' And I'm not kidding."
Know Your Questions
"I can spend hours, days, changing the order of question. But here's the important thing," Walters said. "You've got to know your questions, so you can throw them all away, if you have to."
How to Get a Reputation for Making People Cry
"I would ask question about their childhood, relationship with their parents," Walters said. "I very often ask people about their fathers and get a more emotional answer than I do if I ask about mothers."
It's Easier to Ask About Sex These Days
"You can be much blunter today in questions," said Walters. "You can ask more questions about sex than you could, certainly, when I began."
Why She Asks 'What's the Biggest Misconception About You?'
"I try to ask questions that people are not asked all the time, that make them think, that tell me something I haven't heard before," Walters explained.
Asking About Philosophy
"I very often ask people, 'Do you have a philosophy by which you live?'" Walters said. "It's a provocative question, and a thoughtful question and sometimes very surprising answers."
Talk About Love
"People are interested in love and marriage, their own, and everybody else's," Walters said. "So it's a subject that fascinates everybody."
Save Hard Questions for the End
Walters often kept her most difficult questions for the end of an interview. During her 1980 interview with President Richard Nixon, Walters said she saved her "hardest question for the very end," asking whether he regretted not burning the tapes he recorded.
She did the same in a 2001 interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when she asked him whether had ever ordered anyone killed.
"I put it in as my very last question," Walters recalled.
Self-Promotion Is Important
"I believe in promotion," said Walters about promoting her work. "I think if you're going to do something you should tell people about it."
Walters said she promotes every interview she does. "What's the point of doing it, working that hard, and not telling people about it? At least open your window and shout," she said.
Barbara Walters: The Art of the Interview