The skill of interviewing has to be one of the most important roles when attempting to create an engaging business video, whether it's a case study, short company promo video or even a testimonial.
Unlike the interviews you conduct when you are looking for new employees or writing a newspaper article, interviewing for business videos is of course very different.
What makes it hard is that it looks so easy! We see so many interviews on TV shows, documentaries, promo videos and it sometimes seems trivial. But it isn't.
Here are the 3 'classic' mistakes I come across way too often.
Mistake number 1: Your interviewee rambles on and on....
Far too often people struggle editing video interviews because they've filmed too much. The answers are too long and lofty, it's difficult to extract the key points and it's boring.
As an interviewer you need to take control of the interview and make sure your interviewee answers your questions in such a way that you can edit the answers to fit with your overall desirable video duration... and that can be a challenge because of course you also want them to answer the question in the best way possible.
Now you might be saying "but there's editing, surely long answers can be edited down". Yes, but editing is time and it's hard to know if those long answers can be edited down to short answers, even with all the time in the world it doesn't always work. Ask any professional editor and you'll find that things don't always fit into place.
To get a good result you have to guide your subjects prior to the interview - this is key but so many people feel awkward doing this!
Figure out in advance the ideal length of answers you are looking for and ask the interviewee to repeat the answer within that time frame (roughly). It's always good to discuss this with your interviewee on the day. You also want to tell them it might take a few goes... most people think once they've answered a question it's time to move on to the next question. However that's not the case if you're creating a short video and the interviewee answers are too long or off topic. Ideally you'll ask the interviewee to repeat the answer until they get it right. It can take time so plan for this process in your schedule.
Whatever you do, know when to stop and move on... you don't want an angry, frustrated interviewee!
Mistake number 2: You remember the questions 'by heart'.
Always have your questions in front of you... never rely on your memory. Why? a) Interviewing can be stressful - reduce stress b) You'll need the mind space - there is lots going on and things to remember c) You might forget a question - because we all forget things sometimes.
Unfortunatly I've been guilty of this and I've seen many videographers mess up simply because they thought they've got through all the questions (that were in their head) but missed one. It can be a costly (and frustrating) mistake. Print them out or have them handy on your mobile phone either way have them in front of you.
Mistake number 3: You interview in an office with a plant
Where you conduct your interview can have a direct reflection on your business's brand. Forget about an interview in the kitchen with yesterday's baked beans sitting on the counter (yes, I've seen that before). The office is great but don't think the dying Areca indoor palm tree will add colour. In other words you'll need to plan carefully where you decide to film your interview.
Find a good space for your interview. Ideally you'll look for a location in advance and not one on the filming day. A nice balanced frame can make your video look a lot more professional. You might think that the most important thing is the content and sure it's important but even a one-person consultant has a brand and image. Filming an interview in a spare bedroom or dark basement office sends the wrong message even if the content is great. People do register these small details.
To sum-up, when filming an interview there is a lot to think about...Unless you have a full film crew, there is technical equipment around you and logistics to arrange. You'll need to check the sound levels, the mics works, focus, lighting and so on. You'll also need to direct your interviewee, ask the questions and press record.
It's key you FOCUS on the interview and plan as much as possible in advance so that the filming runs smoothly.
Here are some guidelines to get you started and on track
1. Find a good subject (person for your interview). Make sure they want to be filmed, they feel comfortable and ideally can articulate what you want them to say. Don't fall for the resistant interviewee syndrome (interviewing someone who doesn't want to be interviewed but politely agreed). Finding a relaxed, confident and articulate interviewee can make a big difference to your end result, so if you can be picky, then why not? Try to find the best person for the job, it will pay off.
2. Find a good quiet place for your interview. Monitor the sound in the room. Can you hear humming noises, trains, schools, creaky floors, howling dogs? If so, it might not be the best place for your interview. If it's quiet great, just make sure you have privacy. You want don't want to be disturbed throughout the interview and you want to make sure you and your interviewee feel comfortable and not rushed.
Once you have found a place that seems quiet make sure it looks interesting or at least not boring e.g. blank white wall with plant in the corner is not ideal. Look through your camera lens (or on your phone camera) What can you see? How does it look? Maybe ask someone to stand in while you check the frame.
You can 'dress' a location by adding props in the background - we do this quite a lot. Some of the things we add are bookshelves, paintings, pictures, tables and so on (not plants). It's worth spending a bit of time finding a good angle that looks good.
3. Use an external mic. Don't rely on the phone mic or the camera mic. Neck mics are so reasonably priced and it's so easy to buy them online. The difference it will make to the video quality is huge!
4. Save time editing... Log it. If you know what you are looking for in an interview that's great. But if you manage to actually capture it on video that's even better. A great way to save time in the editing process is to mark your best takes as you hear them being said. For example if I'm interviewing a client and they've just given me an amazing answer, clearly and honestly stating how my company helped them - bingo. Log it. Look at the digital counter on the camera monitor or clip number and log that number down. Maybe at the end of the shot wave your hand in front of the camera lens before you cut so it's clearly visible in frame. As long as you mark that shot in such a way that it's easy and fast to find later.
During the editing process it can be very tedious going through footage finding the good bits. You might have hours of footage or loads of takes. Logging will make it easy when you skim through the footage.
That's it for now. I hope this post helps when you film your next interview. If you'd like to find out more on how you can perfect your video interview skills why not try...
The L.A.Z.E.R System
Sounds like a technology developed for a Bond movie but actually it's a really easy system to help guide you through the video interviewing process. It covers location finding, directing interviewees, aligning eyelines to framing the camera correctly. I really believe it can make a difference to the quality of your interviews and it's what I've been teaching my students for years. Download it here.
If you'd like to chat with me to see how using video can help your business simply book in a call here.