One of the biggest obstacles in getting businesses to do web video is that a lot of people are afraid of being recorded and interviewed on camera. In my interview with video production expert Steve Garfield, he shares some professional tips on how to best work with a human being or group of people on the other side of your camcorder; and have a solid, authentic, web video interview piece.

The 3 Key Fears Behind Being Interviewed On Camera

It’s clear that many people today, for whatever reason, are afraid of being video recorded. That’s especially true when you tell them it’s going to be posted on the Web.

“I worked with one client where I did interviews with almost 50 staff members.” Say Steve. “Some were very comfortable being interviewed in front of the camera, while others had an intense fear of being interviewed. They actually had sleepless nights in the days leading up to the interview.”

“I have to say, after recording those interviews; some of their fears were valid.” adds Steve. “Some people didn’t look comfortable in front of the camera. Some people didn’t sound good on camera. Some people totally spaced out on what they were supposed to say.”

Here again are the 3 common fears Steve mentions that people have with being video recorded:

  1. Image – They were afraid of how they would look on camera.
  2. Sound – They were afraid at how they would sound on camera.
  3. Memory – They were afraid of forgetting what they were going to talk about.

Tip #1 – Scale Down Your Equipment

Steve says that in order to remove a person’s fear of the camera, you actually need do your best to remove the camera from the interview. Technically speaking, this means scaling down the size and bulk of your video recording equipment, so it’s not very apparent to your interviewee subject.

“Instead of going into a recording session with big old cameras and bright light kits, use a pocket HD video camera and natural lighting. Just place the camera to the side of the interviewer, and have a conversation with the subject. These pocket HD video cameras are so small, that the interview subject will soon forget that they are even being interviewed on camera; and they will focus on having a conversation with the interviewer.” Says Steve.

For an example of what Steve is talking about, I recommend checking out the pearlevisiontribe YouTube channel (produced by myself for a former client). It has a bunch of examples of making your interviewees feel comfortable with a minimal video production setup. Some of them were recorded with a Flip HD pocket video camera, and did a pretty good job of getting people to come across naturally. In the video below, you can actually hear me coaching the family as part of the recorded interview (which we decided to keep in).

Tip #2 – Practice Being Comfortable

Steve recommends that with someone who’s are afraid of what they might look like on a video camera, do a bunch of practice recordings with them first, and see how they look.

Record yourself over and over and over again until you develop a comfort level addressing the camera and the camera lens. What I do is basically look past the lens to an imaginary person. When I hit the record button I’m not talking to a video camera, I’m talking to a friend.” Says Steve.

If your goal is to look and sound good on camera, Steve recommends taking classes. “You can take acting classes, improv classes, or public speaking classes. If you know that you’re not a good speaker, then take action to improve your public speaking.” He says. “Speaking personally, I took two stand up comedy workshops. Those helped, but what really helped most were the years of radio experience and a mentor who explained it to me.”

Tip #3 – Prepare, But Don’t Memorize

Some interviewees feel compelled to read from a script verbatim, either on a teleprompter or cue cards. However for people who aren’t experienced being in front of a camera, this can make the interviewee sound very unnatural, and will still often mess up to the point of being very dissatisfied with their performance.

“You don’t have to memorize everything that you want to say in a video. In fact memorizing ISN’T a great idea.” Says Steve. It’s good to be prepared, and have a bullet list of things you want to talk about. If you’re going to be editing your video at a later time, record each of your points and then pause. Think about what you want to say next, and then record your next thoughts. When you shoot each thought, think about moving the camera to a different angle. Move closer move the camera higher, move the camera to a different angle. This gives you time to think about each thing you want to say, it will also add interest to your video by giving the viewer different shots to look at.”

The following is a video example by Steve that he produced for the Discovery Channel, where he me giving a lot of tips about shooting online video. “I had to talk about a lot of things, so when I changed topics, I changed both locations and camera angles.”

About Steve Garfield

Steve Garfield is a veteran online video producer, the host of SteveGarfield.TV, , a live show on The Pulse Network every Thursday at 2 pm Eastern U.S. Time covering Online Video and Social Media, the author of Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building your Business and founder of Boston Media Makers.