How do you prepare someone for being on camera?

Posted August 6, 2020 in
Video Video
Inspired by  Connor DeLaney 's post on mentally preparing to be on camera, there's another side to this: as the persons interviewing the talent on camera, how do you make them feel more comfortable in the moment? How do you get the most out of them during the time you have with them? Here are some of my favorite things to do:

  • Make sound check fun; instead of asking them to count to 10, I always ask my subjects what they had for breakfast to break the ice 
  • Ask easier questions first; kind of like a warmup to a workout we want to get into a good rhythm of conversation.
  • Acknowledge and listen. Nod your head, and make eye contact 
  • Ask good follow up questions that relate to what they said. 

What are your tips for getting the most out of your on-camera talent? 
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Connor DeLaney
All of your points are awesome Lindsey Schmidt ! The key that I've seen (from the other side) is patience and energy. Building on your third point of acknowledging and listening, showing emotion when you feel the breakthrough moments happening. 

I was recently recording a video and while I was following bullet points, I went off the cuff for about a minute straight and our videographer shot his arms up in the air when I was done and was so excited to see me feel confident enough to go in a new direction! He was clearly very engaged and wanted me to know that this was a big moment. At the same time, however, he showed incredible patience in letting me stumble over words and worked me through those pre-game jitters to help me get to where I ended up. 
John Becker
Lindsey Schmidt  I love this! Simply nodding when someone speaks can work wonders for encouraging them to continue. 
Chris Bryant
Before getting the person in front of the camera, I try to spend a minute or two chatting with them, so I'm not a total stranger when it's their turn. =) 

I tell them:
  • The general purpose of the video (if they don't already know, so they have some context)
  • How the interview will go (typically it's me/interviewer just off to the side of the camera, and they will just be talking to him/her and not looking at the camera)
  • If they aren't comfortable with a question/don't know an answer, just let us know and we'll skip it
  • Let them know we've got plenty of media to record to and we can do multiple takes if needed
  • My job is to make them look good. So if we chat for 15 minutes, only the best maybe 42 seconds will make it in (and even then, half of it will be just their voice as I show b-roll).

And like others have said - lots of smiling, nodding and eye contact. =)
Connor DeLaney
Chris Bryant  I really like the point of saying "I'm here to make you look good." When the trust is there, that point can go a long way!