Interviews and talking heads are at the heart of a huge portion of corporate and social videos. Whether you are interviewing an expert or friend for your YouTube channel or a colleague, employee or thought leader for you business here are 4 tricks to make sure you always get the content you need.
Preparation is key to any successful interview. You can have everything down but if you haven’t prepared in the right way it will all fall apart. As I always say… planning is key.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
The key when planning for an interview is to understand the brief. What are you trying to accomplish with the interview? What is the story you are trying to tell?
The story for any interview should be thought of from the audience’s perspective. When they click on the video what are they going to be interested in finding out? Why have they clicked? (Point A)
Then ask what they should be thinking at the end of the video? Should it be thought-provoking (this is a good idea if you are trying to provide thought leadership), should they be feeling anxious about a problem they didn’t know existed (good for product sales), should they be feeling inspired to action (useful for most types of video)? (Point B)
Then structure questions for the interview in a way that will elicit the information necessary to tell the story you want to tell. How do you take them from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’?
Research is always important when planning an interview. Whoever you are interviewing is going to be an expert in their field. You don’t need to be an expert yourself but you will need a working knowledge of the topic or concepts so that you can ask sensible questions or understand enough of the answer to know if it makes sense.
When you are in an interview situation you have two jobs:
- Make your interview subject comfortable
- Get the right content out of them
Interviewing well can be an art as these two objectives feel like they are at odds. Interviewing is therefore finding the balance between the two.
Being conversational is the most important tip to achieving this. People tend to feel uncomfortable on camera but not when they are chatting to friends they are much much much much happier (check out the dinner party mindset for more). Therefore the more like a friend you can feel the better. Ask them questions unrelated to the interview every now and then to help build rapport – although it is always better to find logical reasons for asking these or to take breaks from the interview every couple of questions during which you can just chat normally.
When they have finished their answer ask them another question that is related or relate some experience of your own and then ask for their thoughts and feedback on it. The more like a real conversation you can make the whole situation the more successful your interview will be.
Listening is key. You need to pay attention whilst they are talking. If you are keeping things conversational then you won’t be following your question structure strictly but using it as a guide for the conversation.
If you listen carefully you will notice when they say something that needs more attention or explanation, you’ll be aware when they don’t answer a question clearly or when you have the right content and can move on.
Listening is also a quiet activity. Don’t forget you have the camera rolling and every time you talk over them you potentially ruin the take. Nod, smile and speak appropriately after they have finished their answer but avoid vocalising anything whilst they are talking.
Always Think About The Story
The story is the most important thing. Even if you have everything else right the success of your video lives or dies on the power of the story you tell. Therefore throughout the interview you need to be thinking about the story.
- What have they said?
- Will it make a good soundbite?
- How does it further the story?
- What else can I ask that will add to the story?
In your mind imagine how the final (edited) video might play. Change your questions to draw out the more engaging topics and avoid the dull answers. People have topics they get passionate about. Find that topic for your interview guest and keep linking everything back to the story you want to tell.
If you follow all of these tips your interviews will always be engaging and more importantly your subjects will feel confident on camera and generally better about the whole process.
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