If your video is “on message,” you’re probably doing it wrong.

PR professionals habitually coach their clients to stay on message, whether in a speech, a news appearance or a press release, in order to emphasize company talking points concisely and, maybe more importantly, to keep their bosses’ feet out of their collective mouths. But when business leaders are fixated with staying on-message and worried about tripping up, they typically come across as scripted and insincere.

That may be OK on a press release, but if you’re firing off talking points on video, you’re missing out on one of the most important opportunities video offers: developing personal relationships with your audience. Here’s the good news: On video, a CEO should be able to loosen up and go off script without any fear of stumbling: If they say something they regret, it’s edited away. If they get tongue-tied, they can simply say it again, and anything off topic won’t make the final cut. But loosening up is easier said than done for many CEOs and PR professionals, and so it’s up to the video marketer to change the game by establishing the right environment.

Here are 5 Tips to Keep Your Interview Sincere

  1. Be up-front with your interviewees. Before we film an interview, we do a pre-interview phone call during which we talk about content and interview details. We always make sure to explain that we do unscripted, conversational interviews that don’t require any special preparation or memorization.
  2. Don’t provide interview questions before you film. We don’t always succeed with this one because our clients and/or interviewees often firmly request to see a list of questions, but whenever possible, we avoid providing questions in advance to minimize preparation and memorization.
  3. Explain how it works. Before the interview begins, we encourage our interviewees to answer a question multiple times until they’re satisfied with their answer. We like to point out that we edit out the bad stuff in order to reduce self-consciousness.
  4. Don’t say action. We like to press record while we’re chatting before the interview. We then ease into the interview by asking introductory questions in order to keep the tone of the conversation casual.
  5. Be conversational by listening. If you want the interview to be conversational and sincere, you need to foster a two-way conversation. This means being familiar enough with your questions that you don’t freeze up when things get quiet, but also listening closely to answers so you can follow up naturally rather than constantly moving on to the next question.

Video marketing is growing largely because it’s more personal than words and graphics. Companies that embrace this will make more intimate connections with clients, and that translates into dollars at the end of the day. To truly maximize this opportunity, businesses should get over the notion that staying on message is always a good thing. But it’s up to the marketers to figure out how to change the conversation.

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