Interviewing. For some, relished like a prizefight or an intellectual trading of blows; for others, simply a chance to pick someone’s brains. I do a lot of interviewing here at Tenfour – for articles, white papers and advertorials – and when researching or prepping for them, it’s fear that drives me onwards.

Fear of not asking that one question the client really wants to see answered. Terror of fluffing my lines in front of a CEO or VP. The worry of slanting the focus of my questions in the wrong direction. Sounds pretty unhealthy I know, but it works for me. It helps me drill down and makes sure I’m ready when I’m finally one on one with the customer contact.

Go in unprepared at your peril. When it comes to the precious time you’ve secured for the three-page brief that stretches out on your laptop screen, strewn with URLs and PDF references to sift through like some straw-hatted hopeful panning for gold, you need to be on your game. Preparation is key. Get the questions down, imagine yourself reading them, and have at least one other person take a look. You might be surprised at the fresh perspective another pair of eyes will offer, or even the gaffes they might spot.

Keep calm and carry on. Sitting face to face with a customer representative can be daunting, especially if it’s a CEO or other senior figure. Remember, though, they’re people just like you. They have a message to get out and they want it done right. Their aims are your aims. Stay on the ball, stay calm, and remember – at the end of the day, it’s just a conversation.