Top Tips for Broadcast/Video Interviews
Updated: Feb 9, 2019
By Andrea Frankenthal | 6 February 2019
The broadcast interview, for many, is the holy grail of external communications, but also the biggest potential pitfall. Being on-camera can be a daunting experience, but you have to remember that ultimately you are in control.
The importance of preparation is paramount. You must know your material, and in the same way that all proficient political interviewees ultimately control their interviews, whatever the question, however hostile, you can answer it in whatever way you wish. Furthermore, the way you deliver the answers is obviously very important.
Listed below are some pointers for how to make the best of an interview situation.
It is vital to have a pre-set agenda in which you have identified the key messages you wish to communicate. You may find there are a number of questions you could usefully fit these into the answers for.
It is vital that your messages are remembered as bullet points rather than long sentences learnt by rote – delivering pre-learnt lines will inevitably make you look unnatural and wooden. Using bullet points also increases the flexibility you have to get these points into your answers no matter how the question is phrased. It should also prevent the need for you to check your notes during an answer – doing the latter changes your eye-line clearly on camera and makes you look nervous and amateurish, and you may well be asked to repeat the answer.
Equally importantly, having pre-set messages creates uniformity, ensuring that anyone else answering questions on the company’s or your behalf is on-message, and that together you are reinforcing the main points.
It is essential to avoid ‘waffling’. In the ‘soundbite’ age ideas are best remembered as smaller and cleverly formed nuggets of information rather than long-winded sentences. Communicate your messages as succinctly as possible.
Construct of answers:
For the purposes of editing, your sentences must make sense on their own without the question. Always start a sentence with part of the question rather than with ‘yes’ ‘no’ ‘it’ or ‘because’, as you will most likely be asked to repeat it otherwise.
Perspectives – the bigger picture is often more positive:
Hostile questioning is intended to push the interviewee into a defensive position, but by taking a step back and giving the bigger picture you may well have the opportunity to offer a more positive perspective. For example, if the question is ‘Why are you closing down this site and cutting 300 jobs?’, you would not plan to answer ‘because we had no other choice’! Set the scene, and find a more positive angle: ‘The global recession is exerting immense pressure on the whole industry. By closing this site we are actually saving three others…’
You may be keen to incorporate your company or campaign branding in the interview. There is a fine line in news broadcasting between awareness and advertising. If you make your branding too overt, it could jeopardise your chance of having your soundbite used in the final news package at all. If it is present but subtle, you stand a far better chance. Your company name will probably be included in your on-screen title by the broadcaster, but if they are filming other background material on your company, it is a good idea to capitalise on that and creatively get some branding into those other shots.
If you go to the effort of producing a branded backdrop for interviews, remember that mostly you will be sitting down, so the height of your logo should be roughly the height that it would appear just above your shoulder. Often companies have them far too high up on the backdrop and they are inevitably cut out.
What not to wear:
Avoid wearing clothes with narrow stripes or small checks as they can create a ‘strobing’ effect on camera. Too much white is not good either in terms of contrast on camera. For men the best shirts are in pastels or bold colours. Consider whether you want to look more formal or more casual for your audience, and although a good director should point this out to you, ensure that when you are in position, your clothes don’t look ‘crumpled’.
Selecting a location:
If you are selecting the location for the interview and it is indoors, ensure you choose an office with a decent working space so that the crew have room to set up, allowing some depth between the camera, you, and the lights, with a little room as well to move around. It is also important to ensure there is no noise interference such as building works, or loud traffic, and ideally if there is an air conditioner in the room find out if it can be isolated as the crew may want to switch it off during filming. Finally if the room has windows, check that there are curtains or blinds as the cameraman may need to block out the daylight.