One of the biggest obstacles with web video interviews is that many people are afraid of being interviewed on camera. I interviewed video production expert Izzy Hyman and asked him to share some professional tips on how to help subjects on the other side of your camcorder feel more at ease and how to produce more authentic, quality web video interviews.

Izzy has produced a bi-weekly video production tip on his membership site for years now. With as much great content as he already has on there, I was surprised to learn that he had yet to do a piece on conducting video interviews. (So it may not be a stretch to call this an exclusive, eh?)

The Fear of Being Interviewed On Camera, Explored

In my previous articles on what I label as “Fear of Video” syndrome, I shared the causes of why a lot of businesses today still don’t get involved with online video, and preventing their employees from doing it as well. I also interviewed fellow video production expert Steve Garfield for part 1 of “How to overcome the fear of being interviewed on camera” and we covered one of the big challenges with doing successful video interviews – people’s fear of being on camera. We discussed how a lot of people don’t want to be on camera for reasons of their perceived appearance and performance. These fears are understandable, and can be attributed to 2 main things:

  1. A lack of experience being on camera.
  2. A lack of proper guidance.

The challenge of doing video interviews is also commonplace for the most seasoned videographers, directors and interviewees. Even with people who readily agree to be on camera, there is still often a level of discomfort once you start recording. “When you put a lens in their face they freeze up.” Says Izzy.

Here are a few recommendations Izzy has from his own professional experience, which he says can make a big difference for getting natural, authentic video recordings with people.

Tip #1: Use Small Microphones

Izzy says that it’s not just the size of the camera that can be intimidating to your interviewee; putting a big microphone in front of someone can also be rather intimidating as well. Izzy recommends using a smaller microphone that they can forget about.

“I mean they’ll be aware of it at first, but then they’ll forget about it like a lavaliere that you can clip on their shirt or something like that. That makes it less intimidating.” He says.

Tip #2: Engage in Pre-Interview Banter

What’s especially huge with getting an authentic interview is making your interviewee feel comfortable. Izzy recommends that with someone new to be video recorded, don’t start the interview right when you press record. Instead, once you get permission and start recording, just have a non-related, regular conversation with them.

“Just talk about anything and everything else (besides the actual interview). You need to first get them comfortable just talking to you, and show that you’re really paying attention to them. You need to ignore the camera so they ignore the camera. Then you can start asking them questions and roll into the interview from there.”

Tip #3: Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You’ll Need

From Izzy’s experience, interviewees always get more comfortable as you get further and further into an interview.

“By the end, if you’re forty-five or fifty minutes into an interview it’s no big deal anymore.”

Tip #4: Practice Without Visual Aids

Some people who tend to freeze up in front of a camera are tempted to use either cue cards or Teleprompters, and read off all of their prepared content.

“I tend to not like Teleprompters; I recommend against them because it takes away from the authenticity and the way that you really talk.  I mean you can always tell when someone is using a Teleprompter.  You can either see their eyes moving or they seem stiff.” Says Izzy.

But are there any exceptions to when a Teleprompter may really be needed? Say for example, if you were on a tight schedule?

“The only reason I would use is if I’m on a time schedule. Say I only have twenty or thirty minutes with someone, and they’re going to be in-and-out of there.” Says Izzy.

So while it’s not some people’s preferred way of doing things (like Izzy), If you don’t have time to do many takes and give a fair amount of guidance during the interview, then having prepared content on a teleprompter can make the best of your circumstances?

Tip #5: Do Many Takes

What Izzy likes to do is have after take after take on video with the interviewee. Not only will the interviewee have actually practiced and gotten looser, but it may provide some light bulb ideas for improvements to the original content. It also allows you to sync up parts of the different takes into one streamlined piece.

“I do take after take until I’ve got things worded the way that I like things; and then when it’s done, nobody sees the twenty takes that I did that I threw away. They see the edited version the one that’s good and it’s not memorized, it comes across as more authentic; and it’s the way that I really talk.  So I think doing lots of takes can be a good idea.” Says Izzy.

Granted, the more experience you and your interviewee has being on camera, you’ll likely require less and less takes. But even if you think you did a great job the first time, allow yourself an additional take. You may be surprised with what you come up with!

About Izzy Hyman

An expert videographer and video trainer, Izzy runs a valuable membership website at IzzyVideo where he provides a popular video training series all around how to best produce video for the Internet. His tutorials include videos, webinars, and articles on video equipment, video software, shooting tips, and interview tips. You can also subscribe to watch some free video episodes from his site.