Pay attention

The best advice I’ve seen lately on how to do better interviews can be summed up in those two words: Pay attention. That may be easier said than done if you’re shooting your own video, but it’s critically important. Once the interview begins, you can’t be worrying about white balance or focus. Don’t mess with them once you’re rolling so you can pay attention to what really matters–what’s being said.

Chuck Fadely of the Miami Herald definitely subscribes to the “pay attention” school of interviewing. Here are a few of his best interviewing tips from an online discussion group:

* pay attention! You need to know what you’ve got on tape and what you still need for the story
* pay attention! You need to know what the story is and stay on track
* pay attention! You’ll need to go shoot b-roll of what they’re talking about

Photojournalist and teacher Cyndy Green reinforces that last point.

My #1 rule is to always listen to what the interview subject is saying and make mental notes about visuals that will tie in what they talk about. So if you’re doing a story about drug houses and they mention how run-down the yards look or how there is always someone on the lookout for cops…those are visuals you can try to get to enhance the story.

Green’s second rule is all about paying attention, too. “Keep eye contact with the interview subject…let them know you are interested in what they have to say.


You’ll notice that both Green and Fadely expect you to interview first and shoot later. That’s generally good advice when you’re working alone, but only if you’re not covering breaking news. If you are, check these tips from WBFF’s Darren Durlach.