How to interview like a star

22 Sep

Now, I’m not a professional. I spend much more time behind a camera than I ever have in front of one. This week I’ve been working on two video projects simultaneously and between interviewing people and then going back and re-watching the interview during the editing process, I’ve decided it’s time for a friendly PSA (Public Service Announcment not Prostate Specific Anigen).

There are some things you should know, or at least be aware of when speaking on camera. These things are probably very similar to what they tell celebrities before red carpet events. Well, minus the skinny arm, I’m assuming you already know that one. Just read this and keep it in the back of your mind forever in case someone wants to interview you. If you live in Columbia, are on trial or are at least a B-list celebrity this probably happens at least once a week.

1. Don’t look at the camera when you talk. This is not a Real World audition. Unless it is, then go ahead.

2. Use full sentences. Always. Make my life as an editor much, much easier and you will sound smarter too. I promise. Usually this means repeating the question back but it will give you a little more time to think about what you are saying and you will seem overall much more educated.

3. Don’t use words you cannot pronounce. Prostrate =/= prostate.

4. Think about what you want to say BEFORE you open your mouth. The rhythm of a really good interview should be: good question from reporter, 5 second pause, answer in full sentences from interviewee, repeat. The pause being so so so important. It gives time to make cuts and it lets you get your thoughts together.

5. If you know you will be interviewed ahead of time, take some time to anticipate questions (or ask the person interviewing you for them in advance). Think over your answers and make sure you have a clear idea of what you will say. I can always tell when someone has thought through their answers. If someone walks up to you at an event with a mic, that’s a different story. You can still say, “Sure I’ll answer your questions, what are you planning to ask? May I have a second to think?” The reporter will still be happy to give you some time considering you are not one of the 15 other people that turned down the interview because of a bad hair day.

6. Spit it out already. If you’re long-winded, maybe stop. But really. If you know what you are trying to say, say it in the least words possible. You sound better and it gives the editor more to work with later. No one likes 40 second clips. Also, cut dependent clauses out of your speech if you can.

7. Smile, frown, show emotion. I’m not asking for an Oscar-winner performance, just have some expression in your face so people think you care about what you’re talking about on camera. If you look bored, we can tell.

8. Leave “like” and “umm” for ranting on the phone with your best friend.

9. Don’t talk about things you don’t know. People do this all the time. Just talk about what you saw, what you know, etc. If you don’t know the answer to a question just say, “I don’t know.” It’s ok, really.

10. Didn’t your mom ever tell you to stop touching your face?

11. Don’t mumble. I don’t have a fancy mic and I don’t like to guess what you’re saying.

Now that you know this, you will look like a movie star on camera. You’re welcome.

Can you tell I’m working on a project about prostate health?


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