You’re at a conference and suddenly asked to be interviewed on video: what do you do?
How do you make sure to look great on camera, and also give them great sound bites that won’t end up on the editing room floor?
I was recently interviewed by AWEBER at WistiaFest and my training as a filmmaker and a voice over actor paid off. Here are some of the practices that work really well, and will make you look great on camera.
1. Always repeat the question.
Adding that context will make it clear to the viewer what you’re talking about, which will make you the video editor’s best friend.
In any interview, they’ll ask you a question. Repeat the question in your answer, but don’t add inflection.
“What do you think is the best part of using video content?”
YES: “The best part of video content is …”
NO: “It’s a great tool!”
Adding that context will make it clear to the viewer what you’re talking about, which will make you the video editor’s best friend. Most people don’t know to do this, which means you’ll be more likely to be the first person featured in any interview montage.<
2. Use your company as an example, not a lead.
When you reference your company, slide it into one of your answers as an example, not as a lead.
“Hi, I’m Zach and I work at One Month,” will be edited straight out of my answer to get to the good stuff. Instead, I put it inside of my answer:
“The biggest takeaway that I’m excited to use for my work at One Month is…”
3. Pause a lot more than you would in real life.
Take pregnant pauses in between statements. As a video editor, I’ve worked with all sorts of people, and the ones who make my life the easiest are the ones who smile and breathe in between sentences. It might feel awkward to speak slower than you’re used to, but it will look a million times better.
It might feel awkward to speak slower than you’re used to, but it will look a million times better.
If it’s an interview at a live event, odds are good they’ll have and want to use B-Roll, or supplemental footage of the event, which can be played over interviews to hide cuts. If you ramble on and on, it’s much more difficult to get a clean take, and I’ll spend hours cleaning up the section of video to make you look good.
4. Watch your eyeline (aka: look where they tell you)
Your eyeline is where you’re looking while you’re on camera. It’s distracting to watch someone talk while they’re looking all over the place. There are two main approaches to eyelines in interviews:
1. Off-screen: You’re looking just off-screen, implicitly at the interviewer. 2. Direct address: You’re looking right down the barrel of the camera lens, making ‘eye-contact’ with the viewer.
You don’t want to be the only goof looking into the lens in a collection of 10 subjects.
Whichever it is, you want to keep it consistent, both in your personal interview and with the other people they already shot. You don’t want to be the only goof looking into the lens in a collection of 10 subjects. If you’re not directed by the production team, make sure to ask them. If they say it doesn’t matter, you probably don’t want to be in their video.
5. Stick ’em up! Your hands, that is.
It can feel awkward to use your hands while being interviewed, but if done right, it can make you look like a boss. First, check with the camera person to get a sense of what is in or outside of the frame. If it’s a close up, nobody will ever see your hands. That doesn’t mean don’t use them, though. Open, confident body language will translate regardless.
If you feel like a complete alien waving your hands around, strike a power pose with your hands on your waist, but only if you’re standing.
Keep your hands at about your beltline, palms open, and use slight gestures to emphasize what you’re saying. Some good rules of thumb: Avoid touching yourself, don’t block your face, and if there’s studio lighting, try not to cast hard shadows on your body. If you feel like a complete alien waving your hands around, strike a power pose with your hands on your waist, but only if you’re standing. Wistia has a great video about this.
6. Turn off your phone
Unlike being at the movies, turning off your phone during a shoot is more than a courtesy. Aside from incoming texts and Tweets throwing you off your game, the wireless frequency from your mobile phone can interfere with wireless microphone signals and produce unwanted distortion and static in the recording. This a great way to guarantee you won’t be featured at all.
7. Get your selfie on
The only way to get good at being on camera is by being on camera, so whip out your smart-phone or laptop and get in front of that lens. It’s the best way to get an upperhand on how you’ll look in your next close-up. If you don’t have access to a camera, or are still feeling shy, you can warm up to it by practicing in front of the mirror. At the end of the day, if you can’t be present with yourself, it’s hard to be present with other people.
At the end of the day, if you can’t be present with yourself, it’s hard to be present with other people.
Practice, focus on being right there, on point with eye contact, speaking in complete sentences, giving good pauses. Next, experiment which side of your face is your “better side”. Record yourself on your phone, and play it back so you can hear the tone in your voice and get an idea for what your body language and posture looks like. Feel free to experiment and try new things, too! This exercise will help you direct a camera crew looking to interview you if they want to look at the interviewer and not into the lens. You’ll learn whether you need a trim or to be packing some oil blotting sheets.
You won’t get better just by reading this; you’ll actually have to practice it.
Try a few of these tips once a week, or give yourself rehearsal time a day or two before a conference. Here at One Month, Mattan practices giving short motivational speeches on Monday Mornings, because he wants to learn how to be a better public speaker. Tell your colleagues your goals and find a space where you can practice your skills.