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Here are some pointers about doing video interviews for your organization.  It’s NOT a detailed discussion only a few pointers to keep in mind.

Part I, will focus on the interview.  Part II, will focus on setting up non-professional equipment to do the job.

If you want to go a bit deeper, I have added references at the end of this post.

Is it appropriate?

The first question to ask is:  is it appropriate for YOU to do the interview?

It’s not about your technical abilities – but the impression you intend to leave with your audience or your subject. If your audience are bankers or lawyers – hire a pro.  They may want to see high production values that only a pro can provide.

If the interviewee is very important to your organization, hiring a pro will signal  they are important to your organization.


But at other times, hiring a pro may work against you.  Professionals produce slick productions.  But slick may come across as manufactured and therefore not  as authentic as an interview taped on a consumer level camera.

Have something to interview about?

I know this may sound obvious but sometimes organizations  will state “we have to have ‘x’ interviewed” but never really decide what they want them to say.

Decide on what you want the interview to be about.  Then have a few words written at the top of your questions to provide a guiding light. For example:

FOCUS: how does your organization directly impact children in Guatemala City.

It has to be broad enough to have an open discussion but focused enough to keep you on track.

Keep the number of questions to a minimum

Always ask open ended question.  Otherwise all you will get is Yes, No or Maybe.

Never have more than three or four questions in front of you. It doesn’t mean you don’t do your homework but those questions should the primary points that you want to bring out.

But why only three or four?

In general, you are lucky if your audience remembers more than two or three points from an interview.

This defines your role as interviewer. You need to be certain that those two or three points are easily understood and it may require you to ask the same question over in a number of different ways till they are in small digestable portions.

Don’t be afraid to have your guest collaborate with you on this.  Tell them what the focus of the interview is and that you may ask the same question a number of different ways.  They want to get the message out too, so they will likely be happy to work with you.

Make sure you listen for new information.

Interviews often bring out unknown points so be prepared to follow up on them, which is another reason to keep the number of questions to a minimum. You won`t want to follow up an interesting point, if you still have 25 other questions to ask.

Don’t Interrupt

There is a different relationship you have with a  guest when the camera is rolling than in normal conversations.  In the latter, you are often sharing information back and forth.  In an interview – your role is to help them bring THEIR thoughts out. Save yours till later.

Keep quiet too!!  Nod your head and  don’t say “yes” or “hmh”.  It will come across quite loud because with a consumer level camera you are likely to be closer to the mic then the guest.

Think of the final cut

It will be rare that you will ever want to put a complete interview up on the Internet so think about what your guest has just said.  Does it stand on its own.  Would you have to cut it with other bits of interview.  Re-asking a question will sometimes save you hours in the editing room.

One good way to ensure that their answer can stand on their own is to have the guest incorporate your question into their answer.  For example, “How does your program help street kids in Guatemala get off the street?”  Their answer would be ” The way we are getting kids off the street in Guatemala is by having transitional homes……”

If they don’t incorporate the question, their answer may start with  ” Our transitional homes….” There will be no context. It would then require you to introduce context in the editing room.  Not the easiest thing to do.