The Skill Missing From Your Marketing Videos

microphone and cameraThere are plenty of independent videographers out there helping businesses produce their videos. There are also lots of companies choosing to produce their own. One of the reasons each of them fail to create compelling marketing videos that will connect with audiences is they aren’t good at interviewing people.

Not all marketing videos involve interviews, but a large number of them do. It doesn’t sound like it’s anything difficult. You write down some questions and ask them, right? Wrong.

How companies go wrong

Think about the situation you’re putting your interview subject in when they sit down for an interview. They have a camera in their face, the interviewer sitting next to the camera, if you’re shooting with a pro videographer there’s probably some lights and microphones in place. Throw in the interviewer firing off these scripted questions one after the other and you have created a situation that is completely unnatural… and that’s being diplomatic. In other words… it really sucks.

That environment will make most people very uncomfortable, so what kind of sound bites do you expect them to deliver? Unless they’re a seasoned professional, they’re going to provide answers that sound just like the questions they’re being asked… canned… scripted… unnatural. Not exactly the type of sound bites that are going to captivate viewers.

How to inspire great sound bites

Interviewing people is a true skill. One that’s honed through years in the field shooting videos. It’s not about having tons of questions prepared and working your way down a list. It’s having questions prepared, but using them to help create a conversation.

Conversation is what generates great sound bites. The person in-front of the camera relaxes because they don’t feel like they’re on a firing line. They start to forget there’s a camera in their face. Those lights fade away and it simply becomes two people talking.

You know you’ve done a good job interviewing someone when it’s all finished and they’re surprised. They say something like, “Wow… that was easy.”

It’s actually pretty tough

The thing is putting people at ease like that isn’t easy. I’ve been on corporate shoots where someone from the company wants to be the person asking the questions. That’s a terrible idea, especially when it’s a boss. Talk about putting an interviewee on edge. How do you expect them to relax when you have a corporate authority figure grilling them?

I’ve also seen independent videographers struggle with interviewing people. In many cases, videographers are fabulous interviewers. They’ve been around enough great interviewers, they know how it works. But in some cases, it’s just not their thing. They might have unbelievable visual skills to shoot and edit great video, but they don’t have the people skills to put interviewees at ease.

That’s why it’s important to hire the right storyteller for your project. They’ll have the skill to help people relax and deliver great sound bites.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.