By Manoush Zomorodi (for @StartupPrincess)
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).
Here are some basic rules for looking FAB on screen, whether it’s MSNBC, a Skype chat, or a company YouTube video:
- Avoid excess froufrou like scarves, ruffles, and overly exuberant necklaces (simple thin or thick chains work best) . . . and please remember to cut the tag off, unlike my friend seen above.
- A deep V-neck or scoop-neck blouse looks good on everyone. Most people (despite Michelle Obama’s example) should wear sleeves. Too much skin can make you look fleshy or scrawny.
- Choose rich, sophisticated colors like royal purple, emerald green, or deep berry. Even ivory can work. Katie Couric wore a bright white jacket for her first CBS Evening News broadcast. I would have gone for a softer white.
- If you want to be taken seriously, wear a jacket. Sadly, this is just the way it goes. But if you can show a bit more personality, try a blouse or sweater. Structured dresses (rather than slinky polyester, which reveals every bump) also look professional and cover flaws.
- Always wear earrings but skip the long dangly ones unless you are in a creative industry. A little glint of silver or gold brightens up every face.
- If you are going to be doing a lot of on-camera stuff, think about cultivating YOUR look. A uniform style not only makes things easier for you on a daily basis but also brands you. Bobbi Brown usually wears a black blazer and hoop earrings with little charms on them. Vera Wang always has her perfect curtain of smooth black hair. A signature look makes you instantly recognizable.
The Bottom Line: When in doubt, play it safe (just with your clothes, not your life!). You can wear the simplest outfit and still look chic.
Manoush Zomorodi is the author of Camera Ready: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online. Her 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.