No Need to Panic: 10 Tips for Interviewing and Appearing on Camera
I’m not sure how many words a picture is actually worth but it certainly holds a specific magical quality that can convey so much in a moment.
With most people finally (praise be!) understanding that video content drives search engines there has been a delightful spike in the number of “expert” interviews we’ve been asked to shoot. Many people who’ve never sat down in front of a camera are now happily online telling the world about their products, services, beliefs and passions. It’s fantastic. That also means that there’s a significant number of badly shot, badly edited and poorly delivered videos making their debut on-line. Here are my tips to help you stay out of that group!
There are a few things that you can do to ensure the best bits of you make it online. They are so simple but trust me honey, you’ll thank me!
- First things first: know the vehicle! Are you being interviewed in a studio on a broadcast quality HD camera? On-location Handi-cam-style? Over a webcam in your own home? The way you apply your make-up and the manner in which you speak will vary with each situation. HD shows every glorious characteristic so make sure your make-up is perfect! Hire a professional make-up artist to give you a clean fresh look and to be on “shine patrol”. If there isn’t a budget to hire a professional, then give Murad Oil Control Mattifier™ or M.A.C Matte™ a try. They will keep you shine free. And guys this goes for you, too! A shiny forehead and nose is equally as distracting on your fine selves. The heat in the room due to the lights may require a few on-going applications as you shoot. Lower-res Handi-cam style cameras and webcams are actually more forgiving. I like to keep make-up super subtle for these formats. A natural look for you on-camera is seen by viewers as you being a more honest, straightforward person.
- Smile damnit! After having directed many CEOs, business owners and content experts on-camera, I can say there is power in a smile. A person who is relaxed, happy and confidant carries authority while drawing viewers in. Practice and prepare so that you are happy and confident when the cameras roll.
- Trust your director. I’m not talking about blind trust, ask whatever questions you have. Be willing to put yourself in their hands. A good director can help you with content and performance. They can guide you into telling your story in one sentence and can come up with a few examples for you to back it up. And trust them when it comes to notes on your delivery. If your performance gets too “big” or “boisterous” they’ll help you bring it down. Conversely if your energy is low they will spot it and help you bring it up.
- You may adore your new bright red 80’s style blazer from Topshop.com, or the hot pink bauble necklace you found at a vintage sale but chances are the camera won’t agree with you. HD has come a long way but reds and pinks in the camera can still be a problem. By the time video is compressed and uploaded then recompressed and shared, red can look “fuzzy” and horrible. Blues, greens and earth tones tend to stay looking really lush! Guys, if you have green eyes then grab a gorgeous green tie. Your “windows to the world” will sparkle. Go for colour, just steer clear of the red family when you can.
- If you are not a chef leave the bright whites at home. White backdrops and sets look crisp and clean but not great right next to your skin. Depending on your skin tone it can also be a challenge for your shooter to light properly. If you opt for ivory and cream, you’ll look healthier and the camera crew will be happier.
- Stripes can be hot some seasons, but not for video interviews. Thin stripes and fine knits are too much info for the camera and they can appear to vibrate on screen. Solids are king. Large patterns can work well too. Bring a few items that you look and feel good in. Any shooter worth their weight will tell you kindly and honestly what will look best on camera.
- If you want to push your sound recordist over the edge, be sure to wear long dangly earrings that make little jingling noises when you move your head. Not a good idea! Keep it simple, gals. Let the sound track feature your fabulous voice, not your noisy jewellery. A clear soundtrack will keep your video editor happy and you’ll have more usable clips. You will also have fewer viewers on Youtube “clicking away” from your video because they can’t hear you clearly. Starched shirts are also a bad idea. They rub against the mic and your skin and create a distraction.
- Practice, practice, practice…and then practice again! Use your iPhone™, your Handycam®, whatever you have near you to record yourself and then play back and watch it. Trust me, there are things you have no idea that you do. I discovered while playing back some footage of myself that I rock from one foot to the other and look up to the ceiling when I’m thinking about my next sentence. Classy! Needless to say, I nipped those delightful mannerisms in the bud. Get a pal to shoot you, play it back, and see where you can improve.
- Steer clear of what my friend Bob Ramsay from www.ramsayinc.com calls the use of “bureaucrateeze”. Lose terms like ROI, USP, “social looping”, “value-added” etc. They have lost their meaning and that is not how real people talk anyway. Real people use real words. Pull your audience in by using a conversational honest vocabulary.
- What is that famous quote? Be yourself because everyone else is taken? Well, it is so true. Nothing is more of a turn-off for a viewer than watching someone obviously trying to be someone else. Authenticity equates with truth in the minds of viewers so embrace yourself and let it out. Whether you are soft-spoken or a raging extrovert- whoever you are is exactly the on-camera person you should be. Leave the acting to the actors. Your passion will shine through in whatever delivery style you possess.
Simple stuff really but I see these points often overlooked by both first-timers and seasoned executives. Now that you’re armed with my free info, dear reader, go forth and tell your stories while looking good!