On our Miami video productions, particularly on corporate productions, we focus on interview techniques and skills to generate authentic and effective content. We’re most interested in capturing media that builds brand awareness for our clients.
Recently, we’ve noticed a corporate video production trend. Now, more than ever, internal communications departments are playing a more significant role in video productions in Miami by producing the interview content themselves.
Although People First Media is a soup-to-nuts boutique production company, sometimes internal corporate communications departments hire us just for videography, or camera crew, grip, lighting, and makeup, and utilize their own employees to produce the interviews.
With that said, if you or your team has been tasked with interviewing your C-Suite executives, here are our top 10 interview tips that could help you navigate your next video production in Miami.
1. Write questions ahead of time
Construct your questions ahead of time. It’s always a good idea to consider the interview flow when creating questions. Avoid close-ended questions that elicit yes or no answers. These are conversation stoppers. Instead, create open-ended questions that begin with: who, what, when, where, why, and how. These can develop into answers with more depth and a lengthier response. Examples:
-Do you like ice cream? [Close ended]
-What flavor of ice cream do you like and why? [Open-ended]
2. Create a warm atmosphere
As the videographer, grip, lighting and sound crew prepare for the interview, sit down with your guest and chitchat about the weather or the latest Miami Dolphin’s game. This light talk serves several purposes. It calms the nerves and allows camera and sound to set their lighting and audio levels. Although many corporate leaders are experienced in video production in Miami, a surprising number are less camera savvy, and not comfortable being interviewed. And they’d probably appreciate some coaching.
Take them through the interview process. Remind them that their answers will be digitally edited and that their “Umms” will most likely be taken out. Also, let them know that do-overs are OK! Finally, remind your guests to smile, relax, and enjoy the process.
3. Share tips on repeating the question in their answer
Make sure your subject knows to incorporate your question into their response. Without the framework of your question, a video editor will have difficulty constructing the interview without using a voiceover to state context.
First, explain to your guest that the video will not include the question you’re asking. And then give them a simple example of what you are looking for such as,
Interviewer: “What kind of ice cream do you like?”
Guest: “I like various kinds of ice cream. But my favorite is chocolate.”
Question: “Why do you like chocolate ice cream?”
Answer: “I like chocolate ice cream because it is sweet and delicious.”
4. Position your subject’s eye-line
Position yourself near the camera. Ask your guest to look directly at you and not at the camera. This slightly off-camera gaze will create a visually elegant interview. An interview directed at the camera can be appropriate, but stylistically the end result is different.
Make sure you’ve made the eye-line decision before the shoot since it will affect the videographer’s set up. Also, watch out for the inexperienced interview guest who may look at you, then at the camera, then off-camera, and back at you. If this happens, pause the shoot and remind them to make eye contact with you at all times. They probably didn’t even realize that they were looking at you sideways.
5. Allow the conversation to flow
Really listen to and connect with your guest’s responses. Ask new questions that arise from their answers. You can get some real gems when you allow the interview to evolve into a conversation. Later, once the discussion has run its course and you’re ready to move off in another direction, circle back to the original line of questioning.
6. Enlist your guest to make the interview even better
Toward the end of the interview, ask your guest if there’s anything you missed. This tactic works particularly well with seasoned professionals. They know what points they wanted to express and will provide additional answers if your questions didn’t cover them.
7. To obtain a sound bite, don’t be afraid to repeat the question
Sound bites are fabulous, but achieving them can be challenging. Allow your guests to give their full answer and then coach them to repeat their answers again with fewer words. This works particularly well with seasoned leaders, but may also be appreciated by employees with less on-camera experience since it gives them an opportunity to develop their interview skills.
8. Don’t give out specific questions in advance
You’re going for a personality-filled interview, right? Unless you want stilted, robotic answers that sound rehearsed, don’t allow your guests to read the actual questions ahead of time. If they insist, give them the general line of questioning. For example, last quarter’s financial results or product plans for the next quarter.
9. Don’t make audible noise during your guest’s response
Interviewer alert! The last thing you’ll want to hear in the completed video is an off-camera, “Hmmm” and “Oh, yes” that came from you. Remember, depending on how your guest is miked, the camera will pick up all sounds on the set. Keep up the eye contact and engagement – wave your hands if you need to – but remember to keep quiet.
10. Work closely with the videographer
When you’re in the producer’s seat, it’s challenging to keep the conversation on track and also monitor your guest’s performance. Elicit the videographer and makeup to tell you if your guest is slouching or if their hair is askew. Also, ask sound to advise you if the respondent is speaking too fast and needs to slow down.
At the end of the day, these tips can help immensely in achieving a great interview. We use these tips in our work to educate, inform and entertain. Your team will be grateful that you’ve honed your interview skills to complete a successful video production in Miami. Let us know how we can help. Your story is where we start.