Jes Goodyear, co-founder of Hartlove-Goodyear, shares her experiences and tips to interview for authenticity in this guest blog post. As a producer and editor, her lifelong passion for story and narrative shapes ideas, images and sounds into a moving story from the first moment the camera starts rolling. Hartlove-Goodyear specializes in creating warm, natural, authentic videos that create emotion and connect with the hearts of our viewers.
What makes a video feel authentic? Sometimes, it’s having just the right talent: a professional actor who can take a script and interpret it, hitting all of the right emotional notes, able to tell your story in a way that feels real, relatable and engaging.
But many times, you’re not working with actors. You’re interviewing a company owner or an employee. The executive director of a local non-profit. A university student working on innovative research.
Each of these people has a unique story to tell. They’re just not used to telling it on camera. Lights, cameras, microphones—these can understandably make a person feel nervous if they are not used to them.
So how do you translate that person’s story to video in a natural, authentic way? It’s important to help them feel relaxed and comfortable during the interview.
Put them at ease.
Start off with a few easy questions. Ask the person to describe their job, their company, or even their typical day. These responses will likely end up on the cutting room floor. But that’s okay—by the time you get to the “real” questions, the person will be feeling comfortable and talkative.
Keep your questions simple.
When it’s time to start the interview, keep your questions simple and to the point. For example, rather than asking a complex question like, “How does your company’s mission impact your clients, your community, and your employees?”, consider breaking this down into its component parts:
- Tell us about your company’s mission
- How does your mission impact your clients?
- How does your mission connect you with the community?
- What effect does your mission have on your employees?
By focusing on one simple question at a time, the interview subject won’t have to overthink things, which lets them tell their story naturally.
Keep it conversational.
And be interested in what they have to say. Listen. Enjoy talking with the person—and they will enjoy talking with you.
Avoid over-rehearsed responses.
If your interviewee wants to prepare, it may be helpful to send an outline, rather than a list of interview questions. Over-preparation can lead to stiffness on camera—the opposite of authenticity.
Have a roadmap in mind before you go into the interview.
What pieces do you need in order to tell the story? Before you start shooting, think about the story you want to tell in the finished piece. Make sure that the questions you ask will cover each part of the narrative arc. But be prepared for some detours—sometimes those are the most interesting parts of the journey.
By helping the person feel comfortable and at ease, you allow them to tell their story in a way that feels real—unforced, unscripted—and totally relatable and enjoyable to watch.