Preparing for a Media Interview: Our Guide to a Successful Camera Performance
Being interviewed on camera can be a daunting experience, even for a seasoned public speaker. Many companies and organisations are using Q&A-style interviews as a cost-effective source of video content, for website films and for social media marketing videos. Time on set can be short, with pressure to perform right from the first take!
At Firebird Films, we've been filming interviews for over a decade and have seen more than our share of good (and the not-so-good) interviewees.
Here's our guide for a successful interview:
I can't stress enough how important it is to prepare. Preparation really is key for a successful interview. If possible, ask for the interview questions in advance so you can take the time to rehearse your answers. Ask a colleague or friend to step in as 'interviewer' and give you constructive feedback. Another idea: record yourself on your phone, then review. Look for rushed speech, awkward body language, excessive gestures and at your fluency (see below for more on this).
It is possible to over-prepare. In my experience of producing films, it's better to make short bullet points of key phrases or words and improvise around these, rather than writing paragraphs and learning it verbatim.
When under pressure, it's natural to rush or stumble over words. Be mindful to slow down, enunciate, and eliminate any disfluencies (your 'ums' and 'ahs' that fill pauses).
Clothing should be as comfortable as possible, for both sitting and standing, whilst remaining in line with what's expected in your working role (office attire, correct uniform, or PPE). The day of the shoot should be free from distractions of itchy or too-tight clothing.
I always recommend that our interviewees avoid close patterns, particularly stripes, which can produce a 'strobing' effect on camera, and clothes with copyright logos or slogans (unless they have obtained express permission beforehand). Noisy jewellery, such as several bangles, can interfere with audio, so choose accessories carefully.
On Film Set
Film sets can be busy places and it's understandable to be nervous. It's worth remembering that the production team are on your side: they want your best performance and at Firebird Films, our creative team work alongside interviewees to make that happen.
Before the interview starts, introduce yourself to the interviewer and director, if appropriate, and briefly discuss their expectations. Would they like you to look directly into the camera, or at the interviewer?
It's likely the director will want you to speak in full sentences, including the interview question in your answer, so that in post-production the interviewer's voice can be completely cut from the footage.
Right before filming starts, the crew will check visuals and audio levels - they may ask you to repeat a phrase or your name a few times to ensure everything is perfect before the interview starts.
Interview technique is a learned skill and both company-sourced interviewees and interviewers can benefit from advice from an experienced film production agency. The Firebird Films crew record hundreds of interviews each year for corporate communications, social media promos, and video testimonials, and our clients love what we do.
Contact us to talk about your project or take a look at our showreel.