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How to Be a Better Video Subject

January 11, 2017 | By Ryan Drayson
Image of man on camera

Ready to spice up your on-camera interview?  Through my time in videography and video editing I have recorded and edited  hundreds of interviews.  The following are some inside pointers you should keep in mind when setting up an interview.

  1. Prepare Your Responses
    Think ahead about what you want to say about your organization.  Committing time, energy and resources towards marketing is a clear indicator you care about what you're doing. Think about what makes your organization stand out, what makes it great, and how you want to highlight those things.  Pick around 5 key points you can comfortably talk about and make sure to work them naturally into your responses, or use them as additional content at the end of the interview.
  2. Be Spontaneous
    The flip side to the value of preparation being willing to shift away from prepared content as questions are asked or new ideas come to mind.  If you think something is interesting, it probably is.  The only miss in an interview is the content that wasn't captured.
  3. Be Open
    Be willing to expand on the things you say during your interview.  No matter how much research the interviewer has done ahead of time, you will always know more about your organization than they do.  Your insight can lead to completely new content that would otherwise never be considered.
  4. Get Comfortable
    There's no pressure to get the interview overwith quickly.  Take whatever time you need to get into the headspace of having a relaxed one-on-one conversation.  The interviewer should try to help with some casual chatting as things get started.  Focus on the idea that this is just a normal conversation and tune out any background elements.
  5. Don't Look at the Camera
    Speaking of tuning out background elements, the video camera is the most crucial thing to ignore.  This is a bit of a big request given it's the elephant in the room, but it's a crucial consideration.  Watching something that looks back at you is almost always uncomfortable. It can cause you to come across as distracted and disconnected from the content.  Staying relaxed and concentrating on the person conducting your interview will help provide a more authentic look into your everyday world, reinforcing the truth of the messaging you're trying to convey.
  6. Repeat the Question
    The word “interview” immediately brings to mind a comfortable back-and-forth between two people.  While that's a good tone to aim for, the intention is to get good quotes without  the context of “question and answer”. Make sure whatever you say works 'as is' with nothing more than the basic context of organization name and type. Bonus points if you can do that in a way that sounds natural rather than clearly repeating the question verbatim in your response.
  7. Don't Give “Yes” or “No” Answers
    The goal of the interview is to provide content that the viewer will connect with in the final video. While the interviewer should make an effort to phrase questions that lead towards the end result they want, you also have a part to play.  Avoid answering a question with a “yes” or “no”, or at the very least incorporate those options in a sentence that opens a conversation.
  8. Don't Stop When We're “Done”
    Take the time to give a final comment or address something important you feel wasn't covered.  More than anything this is where your time preparing for the interview and your willingness to openly give input as to what you want to cover in the video will pay off.  No interview should end with you feeling like you have something else to say but didn't get the chance.
  9. Have Energy!
    Being bored, reserved or disinterested during an interview gives permission for that same response when watching your video. If you want excited, interested viewers you need to create that energy as the footage is captured.
  10. Once More, With Feeling
    The video medium allows a connection between subject and viewer by creating an emotional attachment to the things that are shown and heard.  If you simply relate facts about your organization you will not connect with the viewer.  In the same way you should feel open to share your excitement about what you do, share your emotional connection with it.  As you authentically share how you feel, it tells the viewer how they should feel.

Follow these simple tips to create the best possible interview footage, achieving better results in your video projects.

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