Video interview tips: how to be an engaging guest

Lovely guest Tomeka Rawlings and host Mary Fletcher Jones on the set of Conversations in Public Relations

Warm up before your interview

  1. Get your brain active by reading a short article or talking with someone you like.
  2. Drink water (not ice cold) or warm tea or coffee.
  3. Move around a bit.  It will both relax and energize you.
  4. Smile. It will help you feel more relaxed.

Remember, it’s a conversation, not a monologue

  1. Be prepared to talk on the topic we have agreed upon, in a natural way, without notes. We provide questions in advance and are available to talk about your topic before the interview.  Our aim is to make you look good, but you should talk about a topic that you know backwards and forwards.  Be confident!  Practice with a friend or colleague in advance, if needed.
  2. Talk about what you are passionate about; or about what you are dying to share with others.  The video interview only works if it is interesting, and your enthusiasm will help make it compelling.
  3. Allow me to ask you questions, and PLEASE answer the question I ask you! Resist the urge to work in another point you wanted to make.  We can stop taping and we can address that point in another take.  We will always give the opportunity to say what you need to say, and we provide links and cutaway images in the video.  But if you dodge the question or go off on a tangent, it makes editing the video very difficult.
  4. Ask for re-takes, if you need them. We’re always happy to re-record answers. Everyone does it.
  5. Keep your replies brief and conversational, as if you were talking to someone socially. Remember, this is a conversation, not a monologue.  You should not talk on for more than two minutes at a time in response to a question; three sentences is more like it.  Periods are your friend!  Long, run-sentences are very hard to edit, and the entire video may only be five minutes long, or less. If you need to share a longer response or anecdote, let us know so we can clip the tape and possibly record that segment as a separate video.
  6. Pauses are important. I can delete pauses, but deleting a string of ums because you were talking too fast is much more difficult to do.  Take time to pause, breathe, and reflect on what you want to say. Ask for breaks if you need them.
  7. Interact with me. You can also ask me a question or comment on or clarify something I said.  Interviews are hard for me, too.  You are not the only one who is nervous.
  8. Make your replies interesting. The best way to do that is to share real-life examples about something you care about and to be as specific as possible.  For example, if I ask you about your clients, either mention them or mention the types of clients you serve, and describe a recent project you worked on.  Make the stories your relate vivid and different. Paint a picture for the audience.
  9. Talk in a normal volume and tone of voice. Our microphone is fairly sensitive.
  10. Smile AND pause at the end of your reply, for each question. We leave a little cushion of space around replies.  We pause and hold, wordlessly.  That’s because your answer may be moved around in the editing process.  Some people are so relieved that they have finished responding to a question that their whole body sinks and their faces fall. This drops the energy in the video and it can be very difficult to correct in editing.  Remember, when you stop talking, just stay quiet for a moment,  keep your body and face up, don’t move too much, and hold your smile. (But only if appropriate for your topic.  If you’re talking about something serious, just hold your position and thoughtful expression for a moment).  It will seem unnatural to you at first, but it will look fine in the video, and it will save me time in editing. Plus, audiences need pauses to process what you have said.
  11. Engage with the “audience.” Feel free to connect with the “third person” in the room, who is the person who will be watching the video. Visualize this. If you think of it as a  three-way conversation between you, me, and the viewer, this will come naturally.  You can glance (occasionally) in David’s direction (when he is at the camera), or even position a friend in the room, or imagine there is a studio audience present.  Watch how people who are interviewed on television sometimes glance away toward the audience or cameras, and how this makes you feel like part of the conversation.

One response to “Video interview tips: how to be an engaging guest

  1. Pingback: Welcome! « Conversations in Public Relations

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