Remembering the Wisdom of Larry King – November 19, 1933 – January 23, 2021
If there was a “Leading With Questions” Hall of Fame – Larry King would have undoubtedly been enshrined as a Charter Member!

Yesterday I spent some time scouring the internet in search of Larry King’s wisdom on “Leading With Questions.”  Today’s post shares, in Larry’s own words, some of what I found:

  • “I love asking questions. I’ve been doing it all my life. When I was 9 years old, I asked the bus driver, ‘Why do you want to drive a bus?’ And I’m still doing that, ‘Why do you want to drive a bus?'”
  • “Every day of my life is a learning experience, and I’m fascinated by everything. My curiosity in all those years has never dimmed since I was a little kid. I like interviewing weathermen – ‘Where does weather begin?’ I’ve asked that question to weathermen – you know the answer? West Africa. All weather begins in West Africa.”
  • “The key to interviewing is listening. If you don’t listen, you’re not a good interviewer. I hate interviewers who come with a long list of prepared questions, because they’re going to depend on going from the fourth question to the fifth question without listening to the answer. … I concentrate solely on the answer, and I trust my instincts to come up with more questions.”
  • “Simple questions are the best. Because when you think—I watch some of these press conferences, and the question takes longer than the answer.”

  • When Larry King was asked “What’s the best interview question?”  He responded, “’Why?’ is the greatest question because you can’t answer it in one word, and it forces the other person to think.”
  • “‘What happened?’ That’s the simplest question in the world. ‘Why’d you do this?’ ‘What happened?'”
  • “When the Gulf War was on, and we would have guests on every night associated with the war: writers, politicians, generals. And I always asked the same question: ‘What happened today?’ I wasn’t there. You were there. You were covering it. ‘ What happened?’ That’s the simplest question in the world. ‘Why’d you do this?’  ‘What happened?'”
  • “If you’re the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and you get up in the morning, your first few questions should be: ‘What happened?’ ‘Why?’ ‘How is this happening?’ And you don’t know – you have to learn. We’re all learning. We’re learning every day.”
  • “I never use the word ‘I’ when I interview someone.  I think it’s irrelevant.”
  • “When I ask a question, it’s almost like I’m saying, ‘Help me.’ I think basically that’s what we’re all doing: ‘help me understand.’”
  • “You cannot talk to people successfully if they think you are not interested in what they have to say or you have no respect for them.”
  • “Listen to the answer because the answer can often give you the next question.”
  • “It is the interviewee that is the story, not the interviewer. Your job is to put the ball on the tee and let the interviewee knock it out of the park. That’s why you should ask simple-but-specific questions about the interviewee in their moment.”

  • “I start very simple. ‘What is it like to pitch in the World Series?’ Then I follow up. The most important question is not the first one, it’s the follow up. That’s where the honesty is.”
  • “Even when they give you some kind of canned answer, you ask, ‘Why? Or Why not?’ Then it becomes a real conversation.”
  • “The worst way to ask a question is by making a long, rambling statement, then asking the panelist ‘what do you think of that?’”
  • “Remember, asking questions is the secret of good conversation. I’m curious about everything, and if I’m at a cocktail party, I often ask my favorite question: ‘Why?’ If a man tells me that he and his family are moving to another city: ‘Why?’ A woman is changing jobs: ‘Why?’ Someone roots for the Mets: ‘Why?’ On my television show, I probably use this word more than any other. It’s the greatest question ever asked, and it always will be. And it is certainly the surest way of keeping a conversation lively and interesting.”
Bob Tiede


Bob has been on the staff of Cru for 52 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 8 remarkable grandchildren.


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