Executive video interviews can be challenging, even for experienced video producers. But they don’t have to be. A few simple guidelines and tips can help make this experience a breeze – whether you’re a seasoned interview veteran, or a greenhorn just dipping into the world of executive video production.
1. Send general topics of conversation beforehand – but not specific questions
When filming an executive interview, it’s tempting to send over a full list of detailed questions beforehand – you want your subject to be as prepared as possible, right?
Well, this is actually a huge mistake. Most executives are very detail-oriented, and will spend a lot of time crafting specific answers to these questions – they will feel lost if you ask anything that wasn’t in the prepared document, and might sound overly rehearsed or robotic when answering the questions that they prepared for.
Instead of detailed questions, send over a list of general topics and areas of conversation beforehand – this will let your interview subject, prepare naturally, but still have to improvise their answers somewhat while filming, allowing for a more conversational tone.
2. Be professional
Executives don’t have time to waste. This is especially true when they’re doing things like interviews – it’s not exactly part of their job description, and though they probably are happy to be there, they want everything done right, quickly, and professionally.
Make sure you have enough time to prepare everything before your exec shows up for the shoot – no fiddling with lighting, backgrounds, cameras, mics, or other equipment. It should take two minutes – max – for you to get everything together and start filming when your subject shows up.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to rush – in fact, it’s wise to take a few moments before you start filming to ensure that your subject is satisfied with how they and their environment look.
Allow your exec to see your monitor, or record a few seconds of video so that they know how they’ll look when filming starts. Otherwise, you risk needing a re-shoot if the exec finds out their tie was askew, or their hair was out of place.
3. Be patient, not everyone is a performer
Most people have a hard time performing and speaking naturally to a camera. This is as true with corporate executives as it is with random passersby on the street. It’s not natural, and takes a bit of time to get used to.
When you first start filming, things may seem a bit stiff or awkward, both for you and your subject. But forge on, and be patient – as you and your subject get more familiar with the atmosphere, things will get more comfortable, and your subject will begin to relax and act more naturally.
4. Don't waste time, but do allow for a few more takes
This can be somewhat related to the above point – while you don’t want to waste time with unnecessary reshoots, you should make sure that your subject has the option of requesting reshoots for questions that they may have stumbled over.
This is especially true for questions asked at the beginning of interviews, when both you and your interview subject are getting a feel for each other. If you feel your subject may want another crack at a question, feel free to ask – they’ll appreciate the choice, even if they don’t take you upon the offer.
5. Make sure your Exec is satisfied and you have all of the information you need
End your interview by asking your interview subject if there’s anything else that they would like to touch on before the interview ends – this will give them a chance to get the last word in the interview, and perhaps talk about a topic that didn’t come up naturally during the shoot.
In addition, you should take a quick look through all your footage before the exec leaves.
Though it may seem uncomfortable, most execs will understand that catching a problem with equipment or production before they leave will save them a costly, unnecessary reshoot – they’ll be far more willing to stick around for 15 minutes now if it saves them a two-hour reshoot in a week.
While these guidelines don’t guarantee success, they will certainly make production of your video easier, and ease stress for both you and your interview subject as you collaborate to make your executive video interview.
Just remember – these executives are humans. Be patient, prepared, professional, and thorough, and we guarantee that they’ll return that same level of respect, and help the whole process go more smoothly.
Written by Tristan Pelligrino
Tristan Pelligrino is the Co-Founder of Motion. He’s a serial entrepreneur who started his career as a consultant with large IT companies such as PwC, IBM and Oracle. After getting his MBA, he started and grew one of the fastest video production companies in the country – which was listed on the Inc. 5000. Tristan now enjoys leading the content marketing strategies of some of the most innovative B2B technology companies in the country. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook.