5 Tips for Great Video Interviews

When it comes to unscripted video, even the best visuals won’t offset a bad interview. A good interview should feel relaxed and sincere, but loosening up on camera is easier said than done, especially for professionals who are coached to stay “on message.” When someone fires off a bunch of memorized talking points, the interview misses out on one of the most important opportunities that video offers: developing personal relationships with the audience. An interview that starts off badly can quickly devolve into disaster status, so it’s important to set the right tone from the beginning.

Here are 5 Tips to Keep Your Interviews Sincere:

  1. Don’t provide interview questions in advance. Clients and/or interviewees periodically insist on seeing a list of questions, but whenever possible, avoid providing interview questions in advance to minimize preparation and memorization. 
  2. Limit the audience. Nothing kills the connection between interviewer and subject like a room filled with spectators. Be especially wary of including PR and marketing staff that may feel like it’s their job to manage the message. The fewer people in the room, the better, and that includes your recording team.
  3. Make friends first. When you first meet the person you’ll be interviewing, spend time connecting with them right away rather than attending to technical aspects of the shoot like lighting. You’ll both feel more comfortable with each other and it should help provide some personal background to the conversation.
  4. Don’t say “action.” Ease in to the interview by moving from introductory conversation to more relevant questions, quietly pressing record without fanfare. Often, the interviewee won’t know exactly when the actual interview has begun, but by then they’re already rolling.
  5. Lose the list. If you want the interview to be conversational and sincere, it needs to be a two-way conversation. Make eye contact instead of concentrating on a list of questions so you can follow up naturally rather than rigidly moving from one subject to the next. Be familiar enough with key topics so you don’t need to rely on a written list of questions. 

Video is more personal than text, but to maximize the opportunity, it’s up to the producer to start setting the tone well before the first question is asked.