As a San Diego Video Production leader, BizVid Communications has a lot of opportunities to coach talent and help them give their best in front of the camera. If you’ve ever done public speaking, you know that this is no small task.  In the next few minutes, I’m going to walk you through some of the do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your on-camera talent. Of course the end result will be a unique production that encapsulates the unforgettable essence of the person and the topic you wish to present.

This video offers some excerpts of a recent taping we did on behalf of Cal State University San Marcos…for their student and family orientation videos.

Each of the students we interviewed had great personalities and important things to say. Our job was to coax it out of them.

If you are coaching the talent, it’s very important to structure your interview with questions that require more than a one or two word answer.  For example, instead of “are you a student here?”… you should ask, “what’s it like, being a student here?”

It is also important that you dispel their anxiety from the very beginning. I like to joke around with them a little, to make them feel comfortable. If I can make them forget about the camera and focus on being themselves, half the battle is already won.

As an interviewee, you may want to find out what your talent’s interests are. They may have a skill set that can be taken advantage of during the interview. Here, one of the students enjoyed creating raps, so we experimented with letting them do their thing. It turned out that we used it in the video.

Others have great senses of humor. Look for ways to encourage them to use it in their delivery. Remember stiff doesn’t sell, but real, really sells.

What’s more, I encourage talent, especially amateurs, to talk using their hands, if they are comfortable doing so.  This seems to help them make their points and it is a good way to get a glimpse into their personalities. Something it may seem a bit over the top, but it is actually perfect on-screen.  Just don’t overdo it. Of course, some may not use gestures …in that case, don’t worry about it.

Also, whether they are professionals or amateurs, it’s important to let them know that they are under no pressure to perform. If they can have fun without the fear of making mistakes…that will come through and captivate the viewer. In fact, I often declare that we are not looking for perfect delivery… but a delivery which accurately presents the speaker. To us, that IS a perfect delivery.

Some of our best footage comes from a talent who laugh and giggle and do little stutters or hand gestures when they get excited… in other words, we want them to act naturally. It’s our job, to capture their true essence in the best light.

This brings to mind a comment my partner has made to me, when I’m trying to get an “academy award” performance from a very stiff interviewee… sometimes it may be better to thank them and go to the next person. Some people were not built to be in front of a camera.

As a final note, when a talent begins their dialogue, you may want to instruct them to lose the “uhs”, the “ummmms” and the “okays”…. It makes editing much easier. Then, once a talent had delivered their lines well, it is important for them to stay looking in the same direction for several seconds after they are finished. The tendency is to look away immediately. But, an editor loves it when you give them a little extra useable footage at the end.

We at BizVid Communications  hope you find these little tips helpful.  As an interviewer, whether you are on camera or off camera, your mission should be to provide a platform for success upon which your interviewees can play.