By Manoush Zomorodi
Author of Camera Ready: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online
Every interview is an exercise in psychology, with you playing the therapist. Here are techniques to get the best responses when you need someone to spill their guts…or just explain something, on camera and in full sentences, whether it’s for a corporate video, your website, or YouTube.
The Basic Outline of a Good Interview:
- Warm them up with easy and broad questions. For example, “Tell me what you are working on?” or “What was your last project?”
- Make them describe the situation. Ask for specifics: “Give me an example of what it’s like to bake bread (or whatever)?” or “How common is whole grain baking?”
- Dare them to take a stand on the subject. If they say, “There just isn’t enough whole grain baking in the US!” Follow up with a why question: “What makes you say there isn’t enough whole grain baking?” Open-ended questions always elicit more than a yes or no answer.
- Save the tough questions for the end. For example, if you are producing an internal video, ask: “What would you say to employees would are concerned about layoffs?” or finish with broad questions that move the conversation forward like, “What’s the most challenging part of your job right now?” or “Where do you hope to see this situation a year from now?”
- Wrap up by re-asking your big question, when the interviewee is on a roll: “Just to sum up, why is this issue so important right now?”
- The key to any great interview is research. Don’t walk into an interview to get facts that you can get online. Your interviewee will take you more seriously if you come across as educated and prepared. If you aren’t, you could end up like Kathie Lee Gifford when she asked Martin Short how his wife is doing (she’s dead).
Men: What You Should Wear On Camera:
Gents, looking good on camera is extremely important! Whether you are creating a video for your website, running a meeting via Skype, or appearing on the local news, every viewer will make a snap judgement about you based on your looks. Here are some rules and tips to keep you looking awesome on air or online . . . and stop the audience from being distracted by your outfit!
- A well-cut (NOT baggy) suit and consider pairing it with a bold orange or purple tie rather than the usual conservative red or blue (unless you are running for President).
- Casual shirts can work but skip the colors white, gray, or light brown. A T-shirt is fine if you are a surfer or doing home repairs but go for a collared casual shirt if you are an entrepreneur or business owner.
- If you are appearing on camera because you are a doctor, fireman, or some other recognized role, then wear the uniform. Play the part.
- Green if you are in front of a “green screen.” Your body will be invisible.
- The color of your backdrop. For example, if you are going to be a guest on Charlie Rose, don’t wear black. The black background will make you look like a floating head.
- Sometimes red. A red that is too bright may look over-saturated and smudged on video.
- Bright white shirts (unless you are wearing it under a jacket). It’s too risky. The white might glow, making you look like you descended from heaven. Unless that’s the look you’re going for.
- Some patterns: You may need to reconsider a checked, thinly striped, or herringboned top or tie. Sometimes video can’t accurately “read” a pattern. Your clothes may look like they are vibrating, giving your audience a headache.
THE BOTTOM LINE: I know several TV reporters who only wear ill-fitting ensembles composed of grays and mud browns. Snooze fest. If you want to come across as dynamic, look dynamic. Wear clothes that fit you well and add a bit of color so you pop off the screen!
Author Bio: Manoush Zomorodi, author of Camera Ready: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online, on-camera expertise comes from years of producing and reporting for BBC News, Reuters Television, and other media outlets. She moderates conferences on digital technology and hosts live video events, in addition to doing media coaching.