We spend a lot of time interviewing people from all walks of life. From political leaders to captains of industry, superstars to people who’ve never been in front of a camera before. Whoever we’re interviewing our objectives are always the same - to present them in the best light and to allow them to be themselves and get their message across clearly and confidently.
Some people know exactly what they’re doing in front of a camera, whilst other people who are new to the experience can find it daunting, and need some guidance. Here are some of the tips that we’ve picked up along the way to help ....
1. Don't use a script or teleprompt. Instead craft questions that will elicit the responses that you're after. The delivery will be much more natural and believable.
2. Make your subject feel comfortable working with you. If possible try and meet them before the day of filming so that you are not a complete stranger to them, if you can't do this the speak with them on the phone. Talk through any questions they may have, this is really about them getting to know you ahead of time so they'll be more relaxed on the day. On the day of filming be very welcoming with them. Don't ever get impatient with them if they aren't delivering exactly as you would like, tell them you have all the time in the world to get a good delivery (even if in reality you only have 3 minutes).
3. Help your subject picture the kind of delivery you're looking for. For example ask them to imagine that they are talking to a close friend .... or giving advice to someone they want to help ..... or are speaking to a family member. This will be much easier for them to understand than asking them to smile more or speak more authoritatively.
4. Allay your subject's fears regarding how they'll come across. Your interview subject may not be aware that you will choose the best possible take and ensure that they are presented in the best possible light, so let them know. Tell them that you'll be involved in the edit and will make sure they come across well. Allow your interview subject the right to veto any takes that they're unhappy with and they'll feel more confident to be themselves. Tell them explicitly that you're here to make them look good and as such if you or they are not happy with a response they've given to a question then you'll do it again. Give them permission to say 'can I try giving you that answer again please'.
5. Don’t say ‘Action!’ Some people will freeze whenever you say the word 'Action!', instead, once the cameras are turning over, tell the subject 'OK, whenever you're ready'.
6. Don't have superfluous people on set. Runners, clients, or other people who don't need to be there looking at the filming can make the subject nervous. Ask them to clear the set for a while. Also bear in mind that sometimes people are nervous about performing within earshot of colleagues in case they say the wrong thing.
7. Be positive - about people's performances whilst telling them where they can improve. Subjects will relax more when you tell them how well they're doing and they'll be receptive to improving their performances if they think they have a knack for it.
8. Try again and again. Many interview subjects are new to being filmed and the more takes you do, the better the performance will get. Often if you tell the subject that they gave you an excellent performance that you can use but you're going to film a couple more times just for luck, they relax and give their best performance yet. If you think you're done and you've got what you need, ask your subject if they're happy or if they'd like to go again. Sometimes they'll be keen to go again and deliver an even better performance. If you and they are happy with what you've recorded then you can move on. On the other hand, if someone is having a problem with a particular question, put it on hold and come back to it later.
9. Be open to unscripted questioning. Develop a genuine interest in the topics and responses that your subject is conveying, if possible do some research before hand. Don't be afraid to ask side questions based upon previous answers even if it is likely to elicit a response you won't use in your edit - it will demonstrate that you really are listening and will get your subject to open up more.
10. Get your subject to help you. When you've finished interviewing someone, when you've asked all the questions you have, ask them if there is anything else they'd like to add. Sometimes the best footage comes right at the end like this.
What tips would you add to this list? Let us know...