GREAT stories can be told with simple interview videos. Getting a film look and sound is important and cool, but more importantly is knowing the tricks to get your on-camera subject comfortable and conversational before the camera starts rolling.

Here’s a collection of assorted interviews covering a dozen topics. Look and listen for the definitive tone each subject uses.


Know the objective, the purpose of making your video and the audience. Too many times I’m asked to go interview so and so without knowing why.

To get the gold soundbites you need to ask the right questions. A broad overview of the topic is fine but read up as much as possible. Ideally you know the material well enough to figure out the soundbites you’d like to hear if you were the target audience. Work with the decision makers and develop a list of questions to ask the expert.

Day of Shoot

Get your gear setup before the expert walks into the room. Have a production assistant finalize camera equipment and adjust the lighting so you can focus on the warm-up with the spokesperson. You are seen as the pro. Your calm demeanor will calm the spokesperson’s anxiousness. As a producer I put the wireless lavalier on the spokesperson. I use this opportunity to get to know his or her background. Talk about family, sports, what they had for breakfast – topics outside of the professional realm. There is nothing like a smile to settle the spokesperson from getting nervous.

Roll Camera

Start with softball questions – name and title. How did you get started? How long have you been with the company etc. Build confidence and have an easy going conversation. After the second warm-up, with camera running, the time is right to ask the questions you’ve outlined, but this is important, listen closely and follow-up. Could you explain what you mean by so and so and so? The follow-ups allow the expert to guide you with confidence.

In some cases you want to gently dive further to get the spokesperson to give an emotional response on camera. Using words like, what makes you feel that way? Or challenging them, why did you come to that conclusion, raises their intellectual and emotional fields. Remember you have the choice to use a first response to a question, or one that is said in a more powerful way in a second or third take.

Think like a video editor. Are the responses short enough? Remember what I said above. You should know your response you want beforehand. Was it said? Remember short is always better. If I’m interviewing and the expert has great stuff but is rambling for a full minute to get his point across I absolutely let them finish. Then I ask, “Is there any way we can get that down to a 10 second soundbite?”

Unless your audience has bought a ticket to a 2 hour documentary, seek good solid information and concise answers that meet the objective and purpose. For the client’s success and the audience’s critical time that sentence can’t be repeated enough.

Bob Gifford has produced over 1000 videos for companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. interview your business #website socialmedia branding customer testimonials