I am interested in shooting promotion videos for authors. My problem is how to get them to think about bites of their books in interesting ways. I find they are often well…a little boring even when their books may not be.
Do you have any suggestions for leading questions that diplomatically get them to start thinking about their material in an interesting way?
I’ve been interviewed by great hosts and been shocked to discover afterward that 10 (or 20 or 30) minutes had gone by– and I’ve sat through interviews where 3 minutes was a painful is-this-over-yet eternity. A couple of times I was tempted to beat the interviewer senseless with a copy of my book, but it would have been redundant.
Given that I was the same person for every interview, pitching the same book with the same basic information, why were some interviews fascinating and others dull? Hmmm…what was that other variable again?
Oh, right! The interviewer. Bad interviewers do dull, stilted interviews. Most bad interviewers are bad because they don’t connect with their subjects. They sit back waiting for the subject to do all the work. But to answer your question bluntly: It’s not the interviewee’s job to be interesting. It’s your job to shoot an interesting interview.
Yes, there are some subjects who are just God-awful at talking on camera. But most of them know it and avoid it (usually because it terrifies them.) For most everyone else, it’s your job to find an approach that will make them comfortable and, with judicious editing, look great on camera.
How do you do that? Easy: Find things that genuinely interest you about your subject.
By definition, most of us are like most other people (Think about it. I’ll wait.) Which means that if you’re asking about what truly interests you, it probably also interest most others. And vice versa– if you’re bored, so is the audience.
If what’s interesting about your subject isn’t obvious, do some research. Spend time with the subject up front. Read the book. Watch/read their old interviews.
Once you get to the interview, don’t get lost in your notes. Follow your conversational impulses– You’re a real person talking to another real person. If you hear something that strikes you as odd, or you don’t understand, or that excites you, ask about it! Anything goes– if it’s not great, you can cut it later.
When I started doing 3 days of interviews for the Anchor Steam Beer video below (part of this 10-video series) I didn’t know nearly as much about brewing as I do now. And it was fun learning. Since most people don’t know much about brewing, following my own curiosity yielded simple, useful answers.
Practice letting your real curiosity out. Voila! Boring no more.
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