Why a Video Interview?
As communicators, we have a variety of tools at our disposal: writing a story, taking a photo, recording a podcast, designing a website, printing a brochure, speaking to an audience in person, or creating a video. Each of these formats has different advantages and works best with particular messages. Meanwhile, there is an ever-rising tidal wave of media bombarding our audience. With every message or every story, we need to think about the best way to convey it to break through the noise.
A video interview is a popular method for communicating a message or story, but it is important to understand how to use it effectively. In this post, I am going to break down the components of a video interview and see why it might be the best tool for you.
Why an Interview
What is the value of interviewing someone? In the most basic sense, an interview is a primary source, getting information directly from someone who knows about a subject. Because it’s from a primary source, your audience will find it more credible and believable than, say, a typical advertisement, which people tend to regard with more skepticism. Interviews are also great for non-factual information, such as “What is it like?” or “How did you feel?” A copywriter describing an exciting experience might work, but what really sells it is an actual user saying “Wow, this is so exciting!”
Why a Video Interview
Realism is one of the key characteristics of video as a medium (Kania, 2002). Through a combination of realistic movement, audio, and visual detail, video mirrors how humans engage with the world. A study by Nguyen & Canny (2009) showed that conversation via video conferencing has similar empathy effects as face-to-face conversation. This similarity means that videos can send powerful emotional messages that cannot be achieved with other media.
Another reason for choosing video is believability. As the expression goes: seeing is believing. If you can put a person on camera, your audience is much more likely to believe what they see than if they merely read a written quote.
Finally, a video interview can complement or supplement other media in a campaign. You may already have news stories or print publications that tell a story, but different audiences absorb information differently or look for it in different places. Video interviews allow you to tell the story/message from a variety of angles (no pun intended) and think about how all your channels can work together.
Why NOT do a Video Interview
Now that I’ve said that, there are plenty of reasons NOT to do a video interview.
Videos take time to watch and some people don’t want to take the time, especially as they are bombarded by more and more media. Sometimes a photo and a quote on your website will reach more people and have a better impact than putting that same quote in a video.
Some people do not do well on camera. It’s true that hearing someone’s excited voice and animated face can have a profound impact on the viewer, but it is also true that a stone-faced monotone interview subject will turn off your viewer and possibly undermine your message. Likewise, they may not be articulate in person but could write a great testimonial.
Video is expensive. Even if you find a way to save money, it is certainly the most time-intensive format, from the planning upfront, to the actual interviewing, to creating a script, to editing the final video. You don’t want to go into it lightly.
If you are going to make a video, you want to make sure every link in the chain is strong.
Spend the time and money to make the video look and sound as good as possible.
Make sure your interview subject is articulate, animated, and knowledgeable on a topic. Otherwise, a written piece may be better.
What is the point of spending all that time and energy, and potentially wasting your viewers' time and energy, on a so-so message?
Kania, A. (2002). The Illusion of Realism in Film. The British Journal of Aesthetics, 42(3), 243–258. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjaesthetics/42.3.243
Nguyen, D. T., & Canny, J. (2009). More than face-to-face: Empathy effects of video framing. Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI 09, 423. https://doi.org/10.1145/1518701.1518770