The Lessons I Learned from Interviewing 1000 People

Feb 8, 2023

Throughout my 30 year journey with media and content I’ve moved from teacher to practitioner and back to teacher again and in that time I have spoken to and learned from over one thousand individuals on a huge range of topics, from rams fertility to cathedral architecture to entrepreneurship.

Interviewing people has become a key component of our media driven world, originally resigned to documentary makes and news reporters, but now an essential skill in the marketers and thought leaders’ palate.

Investigating the ideas of other experienced humans can lead you in new directions and provide huge value to your audience.

If you want to capture that interview in video format there are a number of things that I’ve learned over the years that might help. Here are six of the most important ones.

Relax

 

1. You’ll get much better results if the interviewee is relaxed. There are several things you can do here:

a) Seat them a good few minutes before you start filming,

b) Pick a quiet location and don’t have too many people or distractions in the area.

c) Start with some warmup questions and small talk before you roll out the big questions.

d) NEVER get frustrated or angry with the subject. If they aren’t managing a question move on and come back or take a break.

 

Edit

 

2. Regardless of the intended length of your video all interviews should be edited. There’s a move away from this in long form podcasting recently but audio environments are hands free and time is less precious.

Video needs to be tight. There’s no set length because the depth of the conversation will dictate how much time it should take. But there is always rooms for some editing.

Look to remove repetition, ideas that aren’t clear or explained well and passages of speech with unnecessary words.

 

Refine as You Go

 

3. As an interviewer you should focus on editing the conversation as you go. This will be much easier than doing it later in the edit suite. I do this by allowing the subject to answer a question and then condensing it down and asking them to repeat back the main elements.

You’d be amazed at how easy it is to say something in 8 sentences when 2 will do. Editing it later isn’t always possible and even if it is it can take ages trying to figure it out.

Getting it right in the interview will save you lots of time.

 

Context is Everything

 

4. Remember to capture context. It’s easy to have a conversation and forget that the audience often doesn’t have any context for it.

For example, if I ask ‘What was the most important things you did when you were starting out?” and they reply ‘Probably the relationships we built’ how will the audience know what they are talking about if I later remove my question from the video?

It might feel awkward to ask them to say ‘When we were first starting out, the most important thing we did was build good relationships” but your audience will know exactly what they mean (and it will sound fine in the edit trust me).

 

Cover Your Bases

 

5. Get several takes of the key answers. It might seem boring or like you’re wasting their time, but people phrase things differently all the time.

There have been lots of occasions where I found that the second take of a question just fitted much better in the context of the edit.

If you ask them to repeat the same question three times in a row, you’ll often get the same exact answer. So sometimes it’s better to circle back round after the first run though. You’ll find you get better variation in phrasing when you do this.

 

Take Control

 

6. Finally you need to take control of the interview because if you don’t get what you need you have wasted everyone’s time. If someone is talking too much you need to delicately ask them to be a bit briefer.

If someone is giving one word answers you need to coax them out of their shell a bit. If they’re struggling don’t be afraid to feed them the right words based on their previous answer if necessary.

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Here’s how I can help you.

1) If you want to get started with video using your smartphone then try my online course Smartphone Video Champion

2) If you would prefer some one to one time to help with your video marketing then you can book a one hour call with me to focus on your business.

I also publish news of any new courses and training in my weekly newsletter so make sure you’ve subscribed below.

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