In the first post of this series, I covered ways to prepare your client for their first video shoot (in general), today I’m going to talk about how to prepare your client for doing an on camera interview. Even more than being on camera, being the focus of attention on camera can be especially nerve-wracking for many people. Because interviews are so focused on the individual on-camera, it’s important that your client is ready. All it takes is a little coaching and a few tips and anyone can give interviews like a pro.

Dress the part

Interview subjects need to look their best on camera. With today’s HD video cameras, every little wrinkle, speck of lint, or small stain shows up on camera clearly. Ensure that your clients who will be on camera look professional, polished, and put together. This doesn’t mean that subjects need to be dressed to the nines, it means that whatever the interview subject is wearing it needs to look great. So if senior executives typically dress in business casual, don’t worry about it. Don’t force people to wear something they wouldn’t normally wear or feel comfortable in because the other part of dressing the part is feeling comfortable and at ease with what you are wearing on camera. Any discomfort (if even just the idea that wearing a suit is out of character) will come through clearly in the subject’s body language. This feeling of unease will come across in the the video and your client won’t present themselves well.

In the next post of this series I’ll cover in more detail about what to wear, but in general try to wear solid colors (avoid bright green, bright blue, or red), don’t wear shirts with logos (unless it’s your own logo), avoid shirts and blouses with intricate patterns (checks, strips, designs, etc) and avoid flashy, sparkly jewelry.

Good posture, great results

Your mother is right, sit up straight. If the interview is staged to be sitting down, subjects should sit up straight in their chair. Head up, back straight, shoulders back. A relaxed, but more formal posture. If behind a desk, hands should be folded on the desk in front of the subject, not on the lap. Don’t lean forward in the chair or slouch. Keep both feet planted flat on the floor (for better posture and so not to be tempted to pivot in the chair).

If giving an interview standing up, all the same posture rules apply. Keep hands at your sides or comfortably folded in front of you. Stand comfortably—don’t lock your knees—to avoid shifting your weight from side to side.

Eye contact

During the interview, subjects will be talking to (looking at) the interviewer just off camera. Subjects should maintain solid eye contact with the interviewer at all times. Not staring, but solid, casual eye contact like if engaged in conversation with another person. Avoid looking back and forth between the interviewer and camera (try to forget the camera is there), glancing back and forth makes people seem insecure on camera.

Don’t fidget

This is very hard for many people who are being interviewed for the first time, fidgeting on camera looks terrible. Yes, everyone is nervous on camera, but fidgeting takes that level of perceived nervousness and cranks it up several notches. It will take practice with your client to help them not fidget during an interview, but the end result is worth all the hard work. By the same token, if your client is a “hand talker”, help him or her keep their gestures down to a minimum. Hands and arms waving through the air is very distracting to the viewer when watching the video and will take away from the message being conveyed.

Run through the questions

Maybe most important tip of all is that you should run through the interview questions with your client. The idea isn’t to memorize the answers, but be completely comfortable with what the major points are and how to express them clearly and concisely. Here are some tips from the SoMedia Production team on how to answer interview questions:

  • Ensure answers are direct to the point (try to be concise, long answers are difficult to edit)
  • Answers should be spoken in clear, complete sentences.
  • When appropriate, re-state the question at the beginning of the response to provide context. E.g. “The reason I love my job is…” or “Our widgets are the best because…”

The goal of interview dialog is for the questions and answers to seem conversational—relaxed, natural, and not staged. Sure, specific questions are being asked that you have specific answers for, but the goal is to deliver the answers like speaking with a professional colleague. Natural, real, concise, relaxed.

Bonus: Skip the dentist or the doctor

It should go without saying, but the day of an interview is not the day to plan major dental work. Interview subjects need to make sure that there is nothing impairing them (like medications—even cold medicine) that might make a subject seem “off”. If the interview subject isn’t at the top of his or her game, then the interview will not come off as well as it could on another day.

Up next: What not to wear on camera

In the next installment of this series, I’ll talk about what not to wear on camera. From clothes to jewelry to hair to, yes, even makeup little touches and hints that will help your clients look their best on camera.

Photo from Flickr by BurnAway.