Interview Tips for Digital Formats

February 19, 2014


There are various ways to reach your public that bypass the gatekeepers of traditional media. Just be sure to consider the techniques and skills that the digital era demands. The medium remains, in part, the message, which a shaky performance can derail. Engaging and interacting skillfully with the audience is the starting point.

Body language and facial expressions that don’t matter on the phone can make or break a streaming video. Style needs to adjust, too. For starters, when you’re speaking via webcast, be less formal and more conversational.

While a popular way to hear a speaker from a remote location, these can feature very limited visuals – just slides accompanying streaming audio. The interactive element of allowing participants to type questions helps, but the speaker must work hard to hold listeners’ attention. Your voice establishes your image.  Vary your vocal pattern and try to make it as expressive as possible. Speak at a normal volume.  Stress key points by adding intensity.

Use words to create an image or paint a picture of your story for the audience.  Examples and anecdotes are helpful – but share them concisely. Less is more. Listeners can read faster than you can talk so avoid reading the slides verbatim and work to add material beyond what’s on the slide.

People are often on the go when listening so they have fewer visual expectations than those perched before their computer screen. As with webinars, keep it short and sweet. If you can, add other voices. Consider a brief interview segment or pepper the podcast with occasional sound bites from others or sound effects that help pull listeners into your story.

These sound-and-image variations on the podcast theme incorporate video-on-demand such as talking heads. They may be used in outreach to employees, to people of a shared political or social outlook or any other group and are sent as video bites to mobile devices. The diminutive size of the screen argues for steady eye contact, contained head movements and hand gestures and most of all, concise communication.

For messages recorded to be played on demand, whether on a company’s website or a third-party site such as YouTube, practice speaking directly to the camera.  A simple sound bite or series of sound bites to be viewed on demand may entail looking directly at the camera and speaking as you would directly to the listener. While you could use a teleprompter, most speakers prefer a less scripted feel.

Online “Broadcasts”
Some productions create a look much like an in-studio TV broadcast, even using three cameras:  one on the interview subject, one on the questioner and one farther back to capture a two-shot of both speakers.  Certainly, there should be two cameras used in the recording. That allows for stops and starts along the way, for editing, and for the questions to be easily included on the finished product. The guest should look at the questioner, never at the camera.