Celebrity Interview

Reconnect the experience of leaders and experts with people closest to the challenge at hand


This method is based on a talk-show like interview where the participants devise questions to address to the celebrity at hand, who is an expert of the subject matter. In this way, a formal situation becomes more dynamic and interactive. Unveiling the true person behind the leaders of a group or unit can create a different and more valuable narrative.

How to use it

  • To create or boost a connection between an expert/leader and an audience.
  • Give substance and depth to a topic.
  • Avoid boring lectures and lengthy presentations.
  • To make communication much more effective.
  • Shed light on the person behind the expertise, and personalize and deepen their contribution.
  • Elicit stories from the expert that bring big concepts to life.
  • For a leader or leaders to help launch a new initiative or to welcome them to an organization.
  • Debrief the experience of a few participants in an important event.
  • Alternative to a case study presentation; the interviewer helps to revive the story and the local context underneath the analysis.

How to apply it

  • If you are the celebrity, you are invited to let go of your formal presentation or speech and answer the harder questions on everyone’s mind in a casual ‘talk show’ format.
  • If a participant, you are invited to listen, see the person behind the celebrity, and write down questions with colleagues.
  • Interviewer and celebrity in the front of the room where everyone can see and hear the interaction.
  • Part one: audience is invited to listen.
  • Part two: audience in invited to engage with each other to formulate questions.
  • Theatre style seating is OK to generate questions.
  • Lapel microphones, bar stools or living room furniture work well.
  • Cards to collect questions generated via 1-2-4 (skipping the ‘all’ part of 1-2-4-All).
  • 3 minutes: Interviewer welcomes and introduces the celebrity and topic to be discussed.
  • 15-30 minutes: Interviewer asks questions that would be expected to be asked by the audience.
  • 10-15 minutes: Participants are invited to ask additional questions generated by a 1-2-4 conversation, then writing them on cards.
  • 5-10 minutes: Interviewer sifts the cards, looking for patterns and asking additional questions to the celebrity.
  • 1 minute: Interviewer makes closing comments, thanks the celebrity.

How to adapt it

  • Have fun with the talk show genre: channel Oprah, Stephen Colbert, or your favourite celebrity interviewer.
  • The interviewer can conduct research in advance of the session, asking participants, “What do want to know but would not dare to ask? What is the most important thing you want to know about this person or the work ahead?”
  • Use a storytelling template to structure your interview (e.g. the Hero’s Journey).
  • Use together with FishbowlOpen Space, and What I Need From You (WINFY).

Case study


Celebrity Interview


ITC ILO Liberating Structures Workshop


Haley Horan, delta@itcilo.org


Celebrity interviews were conducted with the Director of the Centre and the Director of Training to put the hard questions out on the table immediately, and ensure that debate amongst participants was informed by the latest developments and perspectives shared by leadership. In order to create a nuanced and personal view of challenges and strategy in an entertaining format, the Director of the Centre and the Director of Training were asked questions such as:

  1. What excites or inspires you about working at the ITC-ILO?
  2. What challenges do you see? What kinds of things keep you up at night?
  3. Based on recent developments, how do you think the ILO reform process will affect the Centre? Do you see strategic opportunities for us in this process?
  4. When you think down the road, say a year from now, and three years from now, what do you hope will have been achieved?

Follow up questions were asked by the external moderator in view of the topics raised, and a substantive discussion ensued.


  • Give the questions to the celebrity in advance.
  • If possible, send background materials to participants in advance.
  • The introduction should not become a mini-lecture.
  • The questions should be well devised and thought-provoking.
  • Ask repeatedly for stories and concrete details that illustrate concepts.
  • Ask why it is important to you as opposed to the organization or system the celebrity represents.
  • A good sequence of starting questions is, “What first inspired you in this work? What challenges you in this work? What keeps you going in this work? What do you hope can happen for us in this work?”
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