Video Tips: A First Timer’s Guide for Being Interviewed “On-Camera”

Being interviewed on-camera can be terrifying for a first-timer. What do I wear? How should I speak? How should I prepare? Regardless of your experience level, there are steps that can help you feel confident about being interviewed on-camera. Here are some simple ways to prepare to be interviewed on-camera like a seasoned pro:

What to Know Before You Go: The “Pre Interview”

Before the shoot is the best time to ask questions! Here are a few relevant topics that can help you prepare and feel more confident about the kind of support you’ll receive so you can show up ready to roll:

  • Will there be a makeup and hair person?  If yes, then ask how early you should arrive before your interview. If not, give yourself a little time to touch up if it boosts your confidence.
  • What should I wear? Business or casual?
  • Will I be interviewed or is there a script? If there is a script, then will I have access to a teleprompter? If it’s an interview, what questions will you ask?
  • Who is the video for and where will it be shown?
  • Is there something specific you want me to say or talking points I should follow?

Time is money, especially when it comes to video production. Ask these questions before you’re on set and do not wait until you’re in front of the crew. Your time in the studio is precious and you’ll need time to get adjusted to the lights, the temperature (studios run cold!), and the strangers who will be hyper-focused on every detail of how you look and what you say. Best to remember that these strangers (AKA crew members) all want you to look and sound good because the output of the video reflects on them and their ability. The better you look, the better they look, so let them help you! They are on your side.

Know the audience that will be watching the video. Knowing your audience will allow you to set the right tone in content. I speak to my 5-year-old nephew differently than I speak to my business partners or C-Level execs. Knowing if it’s a technical audience can help you be prepared with more technical details than say a marketing crowd who want high-level information.

The Golden Rules While Being Interviewed On-Camera

1. Conversation is Key

If you’re being interviewed, 85% of the time your producer will not want you to look at the camera.  Treat your interview like a conversation. The only time you need to look at the camera is if the producer asks.You can even pretend the camera crew is not there and focus your attention on the interviewer. The more comfortable you are, the more natural the interview will look.

2. Be Prepared

It’s good to know if the interviewer’s questions will be included in the video or not. Often times you’ll be asked to rephrase the question because your statement has to stand alone without the interviewer’s question. Re-phrase and answer in complete sentences. It sounds elementary, but is easily forgotten. For example, if you’re asked,  “What is your favorite color?” then your complete answer is “My favorite color is red.” If you just said “Red” without context that answer will most likely end up on the cutting room floor.

3. Don’t be Afraid

On occasion, you may be asked to look directly into the camera. Why? Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and they aren’t looking you in the eyes when speaking? It’s uncomfortable! Looking straight into the camera is like looking directly into the eyes of the person watching the video. This technique is best used when you need to speak directly to the audience, when it’s a “call to action” (i.e. “We want YOU to sign up for this amazing thing!”), or when it’s a thank you for taking the time to watch the video. Every time I see a person thanking someone while NOT looking directly at the camera and audience, I always cringe. Why wouldn’t you look into someone’s eyes when thanking them? Makes no sense to me. Say it like you mean it, straight into the camera and you will have a much bigger impact on your audience.

4. Be Your Brightest Self

Use your hands and speak louder than usual. You know that saying about the camera adding 10 lb’s. What some people don’t tell you is that video cameras can also suck the life out of people if you let them. The louder and more enthusiastic you are, the better this will come across on-camera. I’m not talking about acting like a salesman. Minor changes like speaking up and gesturing with your hands will help in a major way.

5. Don’t Let Mistakes Ruin Your Flow

Finally, don’t beat yourself up. I’ve done hundreds of interviews and so many people apologize when they “mess” up or forget what they want to say. If the producer and/or director do their job, then they’ve created an environment for you that feels safe, is fun, and mistakes are absolutely allowed. The more you’re hard on yourself, the more nervous you’ll become, and the more this will come across in the video. You want to appear and feel confident every time they hit that record button, so relax and take solace in the fact that everyone there is your support team.

6. Be Concise

Keep your answers short unless the director asks you to elaborate. Typically the best sound bites are 1-2 concise sentences.

In Conclusion

There are many more tips, but the best way to learn and get better on-camera is to practice. Shoot yourself on your iPhone and watch your facial expressions. You’ll notice so much more after you review the footage and hear the words come out of your mouth. And don’t forget to have fun. You were selected for a reason! People pay big bucks to have a video crew interview people, so understand that you bring something to the table that others don’t.

In the next few weeks we’re going to bring you other tips for first time on-camera talent including: what to wear for a business video shoot, and how to effectively use a teleprompter. If there are topics you’re unsure about in your video needs, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch!

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