Interviews for newspapers can be very nerve-racking, introduce a camera and large television crew and it can seem impossible, but there’s really no need to be worried. We’re going to give you the best and most important tip straight away.
The best interviews always seem effortless and putting pressure on yourself will only make it more stressful, imagine it simply as a conversation and it will feel so much more achievable.
1. Keep it conversational
We are of course speaking from the point of view of a production company that specialises in commercials and online content, so this first tip might not apply to live interviews.
The directors and editors of the interview want the piece to be just as great as you do. They will have prepared questions to try and get the right information, and if they aren’t sure, they will follow up.
Respond naturally in a calm and comfortable way and you will appear in control. Post-production can work miracles on interviews, especially when they are being used for voiceover. Small stumbles and pauses can be taken out and it’s far more important you don’t lose your rhythm, just take your time,
2. Know how much to prepare
It differs enormously from interview to interview, and on subject matter. Sometimes there is a lot of critical information you want to get across, so running through that several times can be useful to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Maybe being told the question a short period beforehand can help you prepare answers. However our best advice is not to write definitive answers. Most people aren’t performers, and there’s a big difference between doing a presentation and giving a genuine believable response to a question.
Keeping it authentic will come across best and sometimes a little bit of spontaneity can be great. Discuss with your director or interviewer how much he wants you to prepare, and discover what works best for you.
Appear confident even if you are a nervous wreck inside. No one is going to believe in what you are saying if you don’t believe it yourself.
Take a nice deep breath before you speak. Your breathing and speaking rate should be steady and calm so you have time to think about what you are saying. This will help to avoid “ums” and “ahs”.
Try not to interrupt the presenter or other guests. Your turn will come, and when the editor is cutting the interview for sound, it is far easier to take away pauses than create them.
4. Control your body language
Stay still and try not to move your head too suddenly. This is of course for camera framing reasons; you don’t want to suddenly dart out of shot.
Hand gestures can help you make your point but try not to use them excessively. Sit comfortably and converse, no need to lean-in unnecessarily.
5. Keep calm and carry on
You might have noticed we’ve used the word relax a lot here, and I know that’s easier said than done, but it really is the best advice.
We’ve all heard the stories of interviews gone wrong – the interviewer throws a question you weren’t prepared for. The best way to handle a curveball is with grace and positivity. This isn’t a game show, so you have a moment to collect your thoughts before answering a question. Take it.
Never mirror negativity, no matter how frustrated you may feel, maintain a neutral and patient manner, and draw everything back to your key messages. If you’re not 100% sure about something, don’t speculate or say “no comment”.
We hope these tips have been useful. They are certainly the best advice we’ve found from all the interviews we’ve shot over the years. The more interviews you do, the easier it will become.