This one seems intuitive but it may actually be the most crucial key to a good interview. Far too often I’ve seen someone come in relaxed and having fun and then the ‘gave’l falls and the interviewer destroys what we had going: the person just being themselves! The atmosphere becomes ‘too professional’ and loses what viewers look for: authenticity. The ‘talent’ on camera may even become tense and look nervous.
A master at interviewing will take the off-camera vibes and (almost without anyone knowing it!) start fluidly into the conversation in that same spirit.
Yes, you are facilitating and guiding the conversation and you need to be confident and guide the process. Interviewees often get sidetracked and you can help lead them back to the focus-matter at hand BUT let them lead the way too. If you really listen you will quickly pick up on who they are on camera and what they can best bring to the subject matter. And if you sense a change of direction needed, by all means steer it that way.
Have you ever watched a super intense thriller or dramatic movie where you were on the edge of your seat the entire time? Maybe you felt actual stress – heh, if you are like me you may have even began pacing around the room! But then…. just when you thought you could take it no more the movie took a delightful and refreshing ‘breather’. The pace slowed up, maybe the writer even added some humor and it allowed us viewers to ‘take a moment’.
Well an interview can play out that way too. Perhaps you’ve drilled down on a subject matter for 10 minutes or so and you feel a need for some levity or a change of pace. Ask that ‘softball’ question. Maybe get the talent to talk about themselves on or off camera. Create a rhythm and pace that fits the scene.
So it’s good to plan. And part of that as an interviewer is to plan out questions and think through ahead of time how the conversation might go. But by all means, if when in the thick of it you feel certain questions will go nowhere or you think of better new ones go with the flow. Follow the ‘life’ in the conversation, the energy your ‘talent’ on camera is giving, the topic or topics that seem to produce the best train of thought to which you can drill down.
Whatever you do, don’t let it drag on. If you’ve got what you need, know that and let’s keep moving. Keep your energies high too. You are just as much a part of getting ‘the best’ on camera as anyone else.
So go confidently and have fun. The one having the most fun in their craft generally produces the top shelf stuff. Go for it.