In an earlier post I preached about the virtues of interviewing people instead of using a script. Not only is interviewing better, it is easier. All this is very true…you may sense a "but" coming…and it is…BUT interviewing, like anything else, requires some level of skill. And that skill plays a direct role in the quality of performances you get. Here are 5 tips to make that next interview performance Oscar worthy.
1. Pick the right people
The obvious choice isn't always the best. People in your non profit will feel pressure to have a subject matter expert or "an authority." This isn't a bad idea but in the interview game of "roshambo" (rock, paper, scissors), passion always trumps expertise. It just may be that one of your volunteers will have a much easier time making an emotional connection with your audience than a board member.
2. Prepare your questions
Before you pick any people or do any interviews, it's important to properly scope out your video. I have put together a video tutorial that walks through how I produce a video and provides a useful form you can use to guide your team. Part of that process is identifying your main messages and themes. These should not exist in a vaccuum. Every question you plan to ask should be tightly integrated into your main themes. If you are finding yourself drafting questions that don't relate to your main themes, you may need to go back and adjust them.
3. Prepare your interview subject
One of the most critical tips is also the easiest. Send your interview questions to the person ahead of time. Ideally 4-5 days in advance. If you only take one idea from this article, make it this one! I am continually amazed at the profound difference this makes. The note that I usually send along with my questions goes something like this, "Thanks so much for agreeing to be part of this project. These questions are meant to serve as a guide for our conversation. There is no need to prepare answers but I do find it very helpful to give them some thought and space ahead of time."
4. Create an atmosphere of comfort
There is nothing relaxing about watching someone set up lights, a camera and a microphone in front of you. One of the primary roles of the interviewer is to make the subject feel relaxed and comfortable. This starts with building rapport. I always say thank you. And this is a heart felt thank you. Without people willing to be interviewed, I wouldn't have a job so I always make sure they understand how much I value them and their time. After thanking them, I ask if they have done something like this before. If they are inexperienced, I try to gauge how they are feeling and address any concerns they may have. If they are old pros then I spark a conversation about something that interests them. The transition from the get to know you conversation into the actual interview should be seamless. I don't ever read the questions verbatim. I paraphrase them into a conversational flow. If you're really good, it will take the person a second to realize the interview has started.
5. Tap into your intuition
I took a series of life coaching workshops years ago and a few things from that have left an indelible mark on how I conduct interviews. The first is that to truly listen to someone, you have to remove your own experience, thoughts and interests from the equation. If you are thinking about how something relates to you, then you're not listening. The second is that what isn't being said is just as important as what's being said. Be aware of how the person is feeling. Get a sense for the vibe in the room. These things will help you tap into your intuition and uncover things that you ordinarily wouldn't. There's no substitute for having good questions but I often find the best parts of the interview are things that appear to me in the moment. In other words, "Use The Force!"
Following these tips will ensure that your next non profit video production is a great one!
Need help producing your next video? Check out our video tutorial below. We have an easy process and guide that will guarantee great results.