Recently Wild Bunch Media has been gathering loads of testimonials, sound-bite and interviews for Fountainhead Retreat in Maleny. It’s an amazing place and the only certified organic health retreat in the world.

The first thing you have to try and do is talk to the client and ascertain what kind of feedback they are after. You cannot tell an interviewee what to say but they will need direction, to put them at ease and so your questions need to lead to an expansive answer rather than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example- ‘How would you describe your experience Fountainhead Retreat?’ Rather than ‘Did you enjoy your experience at Fountainhead Retreat.’

Always try to get the interviewee to repeat the question back to you or mention the name of the business you are trying to promote. So with the above questions the answer should start:’ My experience at Fountainhead Retreat was… etc’. This way you can edit yourself out of the interview.

Ask a variety of questions so the material can be used not just for testimonials but as promotional soundbites.

If you’re looking for honest emotions and answers it’s best not to prepare them too much or it sounds rehearsed. With practice and thought you can put the interviewee at ease with questions and you ‘bed side manner’.

I found some good advice about preparing your interviewee for  longer, more indepth interview where you would like your interviewee to prepare there answers (San Diego Video Productions).

One of the best ways to improve your on-camera interviews is by conducting mini-interviews with your subjects before the camera rolls. An apprehensive, nervous CEO became a solid, confident presenter on tape largely because our producer spent time preparing him.

Ideally, this is done in person with the subject a few weeks or days before your video production. That way, they’ll become comfortable with your interview style and you’ll have an idea what they’ll look and sound like on tape. It will also give you an opportunity to evaluate their chances of performing as required for the program. It may be possible to schedule some quick media training or suggest other ways to enhance their performance. This could include the addition of a teleprompter or a hair/makeup stylist.

If time doesn’t permit a personal visit, a phone conversation is the next best thing. This is when you can determine whether your subject is long-winded, lacks energy, etc., so that you can find a better interview subject. You can help your subject to be succinct and clear (i.e., “Am I understanding you correctly when you say…” or “Do you mean to say…”). It will also give you the chance to help the subject gather their thoughts. Busy professionals often wait until the last minute to scan briefing notes and then sit down and want the interview over in five minutes. The client then wonders why the program wasn’t successful.

Pre-interviews can also help you formulate better questions because you’ll know what your subject is going to say. At the very least, take a few minutes before the camera rolls, while the crew is setting up, for a mini pre-interview to find out what your subject will say and to help him or her relax. The worst thing to do is to sit in the room during setup. There are too many distractions. The client will be listening to where the audio guy went on vacation instead of discussing the subject at hand with you. This is the time to take control, isolate the client from handlers if possible, and accomplish your goal of making the subject comfortable with you and their material.