It was only when the coronavirus struck and jobs moved online that I noticed how much of mine involves not getting interviewees to talk, but getting them to stop. Time is always limited, so it mustn’t be wasted. When face-to-face, all sorts of non-verbal cues can be deployed to stop the conversation straying off course. Online, that is much harder to do — and in the case of Bill Gates, I quickly discover, quite impossible.
When we meet — via Microsoft Teams, obviously, not Zoom — I am momentarily thrown by how much he looks like Woody Allen. Wearing a V-neck pullover and oversized glasses, the 65-year-old folds his arms and rocks back and forth in his chair — but there any resemblance to the