Interviews and Voice Overs: How do you Get Them to Say What You Want?
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Tips and Tricks to help get the most out of your interview for Documentaries & Corporate Films.
One of the major concerns we often hear is around the question of interviews and voice-overs. Many of the questions we get can be boiled down to the following: “How do I get them to say what my boss wants to hear in my brand film?”, or, “How can we get them to touch on our corporate ethos organically?”.
This approach to conducting interviews can leave brands and companies feeling like they’re trying to deconstruct a magic trick.
So, we thought we’d peel the curtain back a little and let you in on some of the steps we take in order to make interviews as simple and effective as possible. Before diving a little deeper into the inner workings of how to conduct a successful interview, let’s refresh ourselves with a few of the fundamentals.
Sometimes you may feel like you need to jump in, but don’t be afraid to pause and let the silence linger. Be kind and come across as interested. Hopefully, it’s a project you’re passionate about. But if not, make sure you’re interested in the person you’re talking to.
(excuse the Limp Bizkit lyric) Keep your trigger finger off the record button. Sometimes you can get some hidden gems when you think it’s all over.
Don’t just smile and nod. Take everything in. You never know where their answers might take you. It’s great when small details trigger a quick off the cuff question.
An obvious one—but, avoid yes/no questions.
The best step you can take before going into your interview is to have a desired outcome. If you’re conducting an interview to get B-Roll for your documentary, your desired outcome will stem from your vision for the film as a whole. If your main aim is to provide a human face for your corporate brand—then you’ll need to provide questions that prompt honest, warm answers.
Take a look at some of the videos on our website containing interviews. Each will have a different style and outcome. If you have time, try and decipher our goal and vision going into the interview by the style of voice-over used in each video.
As with anything, a large part of your voice over’s success will come down to your preparation. Notice we’re emphasising your preparation over the interviewees here. In some instances, it may be necessary for the interviewee to brush up on their stuff before sitting down with you. But, nine times out of ten anything they have prepared to recite will need to be discarded as you go in search of a more authentic response.
So, what can you do to prepare for your interview? Well, thanks to the internet, you can’t beat a good old-fashioned background search! Learn all you can about your interviewee or the brand they’re representing. Learn things that are important to your vision and to them as a person. Also, learn things that do not seem important at the time. There’s nothing more disarming than the moment your interviewee realises you’ve taken the time and interest to find out some lesser-known facts about them.
Now you’re ready to compile your questions. In doing so, be sure to remember your vision—the kind of response you want, and, based on your research, what kind of answer a certain question will get.
First-time interviewees obsess about how they should conduct themselves during an interview. The way they present themselves should be derived from your own technique as the interviewer. Give them something to mirror. If you want them to be relaxed and composed—don’t just tell them that over and over. Show them how you want them to react and allow them to adapt to your own body language.
If they’re nervous or even a tad hostile. Don’t be afraid to joke around with them. Show them a funny video—or better yet an outtake from a previous interview. The stakes may be high for your interview. But they should never feel high for your interviewee.
A final note on technique. Remember all those lovely questions you stayed up all night preparing? Well, you need to set them aside. This is where the preparation kicks in. Yes, you spent lots of time crafting questions that even Michael Parkinson would be jealous of, but now is the time to put them down, look your interviewee in the eye and let muscle memory take over. After all, they didn’t do any research on you before this. Don’t give the impression that you have the upper hand on them. Unless, of course… that’s the idea.
Contact Your Video Production Agency
If you’re working with a production team to film your interview, get in touch with them and ask them to clarify any concerns you may have. In this day and age, your production team shouldn’t be paid to be there to roll a camera—they should be taking the reins on the construction of the whole interview process.
If you aren’t working with a production company but would like to get more information on how to conduct a successful interview, feel free to get in touch for a free consultation via: firstname.lastname@example.org
We stand by this advice, as a means to pull you through your first solo interview. But, nothing can replace the expertise of a production team with an in-house interviewer with the experience that comes with conducting a range of different interviews.
“IT’S A WONDERFUL JOB FOR PEOPLE THAT HAVE NEVER HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN BUT ALWAYS WANTED ONE.”
– Dick Cavett