The Art Of The Interview: 7 Tricks
We’re living in a digital age in which video is becoming a more and more effective way to reach an audience. The data shows a growing appetite for video online.
The number of online video viewers will amount to 232.1 million users in 2020, up from 213.2 million in 2013, according to data compiled by statista. (See also: 12 Facts Showing Video Marketing Is In Your Future.)
So where do you start? How do you create a great video? There are a million answers to that question. I’m going to focus on one of them: The Interview.
Interviews with experts in the field of focus are often a critical part of a video. They can make it. Or break it.
Over the course of my career as a TV reporter, I interviewed thousands of people. If you do it right, you can extract a great soundbite from just about anyone.
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Here are seven tips on how to do it:
On-camera interviews are not a natural thing. It isn’t normal to have a conversation with someone while a camera is pointed at your face.
Even the most powerful people are often intimidated and nervous when they first sit down. Help them relax.
You may think to yourself, ‘This interview subject is going to be a disaster.’
Don’t ever assume someone is a hopeless cause. Instead, get to know that person.
Before you turn on the camera, spend a few minutes making chit-chat. Ask about favorite movies, music, books, and other interests. Do they have any pets? Kids? If they feel like they’re having a conversation with an old friend, you’re halfway to a great interview.
When you’re ready to start the interview, tell them to ignore the camera and look at you. Remind them that it isn’t live. It’s taped and edited. So if they stumble and want to start over, that’s totally fine.
And remember to stay relaxed yourself. Try not to look down at your notes. Just have a conversation. If you act nervous and rigid, so will they.
2) Listen For Soundbites
Before the interview, map out what you want them to say. Put a general script together, outlining the general points you want them hit. And then come up with some questions that will result in them giving you the soundbites you need.
(WARNING: Don’t show them that script. You don’t want a canned, robotic answer. You want it to look and sound natural.)
Throughout the interview, keep your ear out for soundbites that sum up a thought quickly and concisely. If you don’t hear one, ask the question in a different way. If that doesn’t work, move on and come back around to it at the end of the interview. But don’t force it.
And DO NOT ask them to regurgitate a scripted answer. Nothing makes a viewer more uncomfortable. If all else fails, you can work your magic in the edit.
3) Avoid Jargon
Experts often use technical language that only other people in their field would understand. If those “other people” are the audience you’re hoping to reach, you can skip this part.
If not, stay away from the jargon. Jargon is the easiest and fastest way to lose an audience. If you hear it during an interview, ask the interview subject to explain the subject matter in a way that a five-year-old would understand.
But DON’T just say: “Don’t use jargon.” That will only make the interview subject more nervous and less able to function naturally.
4) Ask A Stupid Question
After you’ve gone over the technical stuff, ask them a stupid question: Why does this matter? Why should viewers care about what we’re talking about? How does this apply to the real world?
Have them boil it down. This will likely be the soundbite that drives the entire video.
5) Get Personal
If they’ve spent their whole lives dedicated to becoming experts on a particular subject, chances are, there’s a good reason. Ask them about it. Get personal. What does it mean to them? Why do they care?
These will be your most authentic and memorable answers. These will be the soundbites that bring your video to life.
6) Pregnant Pause
After your interview subject has finished speaking, give it a beat. Don’t jump right in with the next question, because you’ll likely step on the best part of the soundbite. Let it breathe.
People don’t like uncomfortable silence. It makes them nervous. So they will likely start talking again, without really thinking about what they’re saying. And those are often the most natural and authentic soundbites.
7) What Else?
The very last question on your list should be: “Is there anything else you’d like to add?”
When you aren’t the expert on a subject, you don’t know what you don’t know. So ask them. What did I forget? What haven’t I asked you yet that is important?
Don’t be afraid to go off script. And be ready to ask some follow-up questions if necessary.
Conducting an interview isn’t rocket science. Don’t get bent out of shape about it. Just try to have fun with it! If you’re enjoying yourself, the people you’re interviewing will enjoy themselves. And that’s the only ingredient necessary for a great interview.