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  • Writer's pictureXavier

5 Tips For Better Interviews

Filming someone speaking on camera can be hard.

It’s really easy for your subject to freeze up and get nervous. For most people, it’s like public speaking. Maybe even worse.

This is problematic when the success of your video often comes down to how engaging your subjects are. If they're nervous and not themselves, they won't sound authentic and people will struggle to connect with your message. Instagram and TikTok with their raw, short form content have made it even more important to be authentic on camera.

This leads me to another point – ditch the script.

In all my years of videography, in addition to running my videography courses to hundreds of organisations in Sydney and Brisbane, I can tell you in 95% of the time, scripts just don't work. They almost always end up sounding inauthentic. This is poison to your video. Your subject will also start obsessing about getting every single word right. It's painful.

Remember – the reason you're speaking with your subject in the first place is because they know the content they're talking about. So instead of the script, replace it with well-curated questions that you've planned in advance. These questions, if you take them time to think about them, will have the power to draw out exactly what you need from your subject. And even if they're not fully-polished in their response, this is 100% better than a rigid delivery that people won't even connect with and therefore probably not watch your video.

So, on that note, how do we get our subjects comfortable when speaking on camera?

Here’s my 5 tips:

  1. When you’re setting up the camera, make sure you’re having a chat with your subject and keeping a connection going. Don't let them sit in silence, getting nervous, wallowing in their thoughts. Form a connection. Talk about their day. Talk about their work. Keep the conversation going right up until you roll into the filming. Essentially, you need to slide from your casual conversation into the filming without any emphasis on the recording. Don’t build up to the moment with a scary count down.

  2. Tell them they can simply ignore the camera and just chat to you. Smile 😊

  3. Start by asking a couple of easy questions to warm them up. I call these 'decoy questions.' You're not going to actually use them in your video, it's just to get the first few sentences out of them. Often by the end of the interview I find myself wishing that I could ask the questions again, because they're all warmed up and nailing it. So just make sure you put easy 'decoy' questions at the start and save your important questions for when they're feeling comfortable.

  4. Again, don't allow your subject to write a script. They never work well. You can provide a list of questions in advance, but no script.

  5. Finally, leading up to the day, don’t make a huge deal about the video. Keep your communication with your subject casual: “Hey, I’m making a video, do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your work?" Rather than: “Our team going to come to your office and sit down and film an interview with you on camera. We want you to explain these 8 topics in detail for content that's going to go on our website and social media."

Tip number 1 is definitely the most important. I’ve often noticed with famous podcasts they'll start the episode with “we were just talking about…”. This is because they were speaking with their guest in the chair before they rolled live, to avoid the build up to the moment. Again, it really helps with nerves.

Because interviews are such an important component of any video, we spend a good amount of time focusing on them in our 1 day videography training course in Sydney and Brisbane. We plan out well-curated questions, set up our camera, lighting, sound and use the above soft skills to practice getting the most out of your subject. It's a fantastic day of filming and editing training that is completely tailored to your own video goals.


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