How To Shoot A Video Interview That Doesn’t Suck: 10 Tips You Can’t Ignore

How To Shoot A Video Interview That Doesn’t Suck: 10 Tips You Cant Ignore

Interviews are a staple of business video, but there's nothing duller than stilted answers to predictable questions from someone very unhappy to be on camera. Since boring videos get turned off with a click of the mouse in about 10 seconds, your best route to great video SEO is exciting, interesting, intriguing video.

Steve Stockman is author of How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck and ReelSEO article How To Shoot Business Videos That Don't Suck: 10 Things You Must Know.This time he's back with 10 more powerful tips to make sure your video interview turns out great every time.

1. Cast for the Stars: Here's what professional directors know that you don't (until now!): 85% of the director's job is casting. If you have someone great in front of the camera, the movie will be great. If you don't, shoot yourself now. You can't, as they say, shine shit.

Before you set an interview for that sales video, casually shoot potential interviewees in open-ended conversation, When you look at the video later you'll be able to tell the stars from the extras almost immediately.

It may be that the president of your company has such a huge ego it will be tough to tell him he's out of the video, but if you're lucky, he'll care more about results.

2. Use your Talent Wisely: Even when you look for stars you may get stuck with something less. Some people are incredibly knowledgeable and sound great—but are not that interesting to watch. No problem—Your interview with the head of R&D could serve as a voice-over for a more complex piece that includes shots of the department at work, the product in use in the field, and interviews with others. Or maybe you have five interviewees and NONE of them are fascinating in large doses—cut the prime snippets out of what they say and edit those into the video. One of them may still be boring, but she'll be boring shorter.

3. Prepare: Your job is to pull information out of your interviewees, in their own words. Do your homework before your interview and you'll ask better questions– the more ideas you come in with, the better. You may already know most of what you're going to hear, but your video won't be very good if you're the one doing the talking.

4. Make the Talent Comfortable: Physically: Are they sitting or standing in a relaxed position? Do they know it's okay to use their hands? And mentally: for commercials, I tell people that I'm going to be talking to them for 10 minutes but will only use three seconds of what they say—and I don't know which three seconds until I edit. So I'm not going to worry about what they say, and they don't have to either.

5. Ease Into it: Another great way to relax people is to start the interview slowly. There's a camera pointing at them—pretty scary! Bytes are cheap. Waste some card space while you make small talk to help them relax into the conversation.

6. Relax Yourself: Let your interviewee set the pace. Slow talkers shut right up if you pepper them with too many questions. Human chipmunks will be bored if you don't keep up the pace. Take a few deep breaths and go with the subject's flow.

7. Make it a Real Conversation: In a normal conversation, you respond to what the other person says. A good interview works exactly the same way. Listen well and allow your natural curiosity to guide your questions even if it leads you to something you weren't planning on asking.

8. Look them in the eye: You need to develop a conversational trust with your interviewee. One great way to do it is by making strong eye contact. Have the subject look at you, not the camera, so you can talk.

9. Sound: Record with lavelier mics or booms. Always. Unless you're a foot from your subject, don't rely on your camera's crappy microphone. Any sense of intimacy will be destroyed by distance and echo in the voice track.

10. Location, Location, Location: The same interview with a hedge-fund manager communicates different information if it's in his marble and polished wood office vs. the floor of a working factory. An interview against the wrong background is an accidental mis-communication.

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About Our Contributing Author - Steve Stockman
Steve Stockman is the President of Custom Productions, Inc. in Los Angeles. He's a producer, writer and director of over 200 commercials, web series, short films, music videos, and TV shows. He performed all three roles for the award-winning MGM feature film Two Weeks, starring Sally Field, Ben Chaplin, Tom Cavanagh, Julianne Nicholson, Glenn Howerton and Clea DuVall.



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What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408472690 Wayne Clark

    Steve, good article. I would like to add an additional caution to number 7, making it a real conversation. As an interviewer, you need to know when to SHUT-UP. Unlike a real conversation where we sometimes overlap our conversations, you need to respond by nodding your head, smile, or laugh quietly. Its a pain to try and edit these when you have a overlapping conversation. Another suggestion would be to make sure you have a notebook to write down additional questions that may pop up during the conversation, so as not to interrupt the subject, and ask them at the proper time. I would also suggest having someone else operate the camera. I always use batteries during interviews, it keeps the camera out of the electrical loop, especially when using lights, less chance of having a ground loop or external noise. The camera operator keeps a eye on the battery level, and monitors the audio, in case of any unexpected background noises should appear.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566118919 Steve Stockman

      Agreed about the shutting up, Wayne, but I think most people have a tougher time with flow and eliciting real, emotional responses than the technical issue of talking over the subject. That's a mistake you only make once!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1589912761 Michael A. LaMarca

    What r some generic questions I can ask my clients during an interview?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1597741672 Phillip Barnhard

    Nice job, Steve. Adding to that…

    Sometimes questions result in shorter answers, particularly with those uncomfortable in front of the camera. Instead, I like to provide discussion points to get the interviewee talking (i.e., talk about what your company is doing to reduce energy). Then, if I hear something I like, I ask them to expand upon that subject. And as Wayne said, the notebook does come in handy with this technique.

    Also, make sure you are visually responsive to the conversation. Eye contact is great, but I like to throw in a smile and head-nod to help build the interviewee's confidence.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566118919 Steve Stockman

      Especially avoid yes or no questions, which not only result in uncomfortable answers, but make people feel uncomfortable because they KNOW you want more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=661319895 ‘Wynn Currie

    Thanks for sharing the tips. I have never done interviews before but this is something I'd like to try sometime.

  • http://lloydchiro.com Todd Lloyd, DC

    I just looked over Steve's book in the bookstore across the street from our office. I can't wait to apply some of the tips in videos for our clinic.

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