Editor Deb White provides a checklist to help you as the interviewer or video producer to brief your interviewee and structure your video.

Interviews are more successful when the interviewee is prepared and the content for your video structured.


Video interviews used by the Museum are usually a maximum of 3 minutes in length. If they are any longer, your audience begins to lose interest. The ideal length is between 1.5 and 2 minutes.

Videos with talking heads are usually quite boring for the visitor. If your video is an interview with a content expert, break up the monotony of a talking head with images, footage or animation.

Think about the life of this video asset. How long will it be used for? What platforms will it be pushed out on? Do you need to consider copyright, licencing or branding issues?

Before the shoot

  • Every video needs to have a structure before you turn the camera on. A structure includes an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
  • Script all parts of your video as a general rule. If you cannot script your entire video, script your introduction and conclusion with your interviewee or ask them (as the content experts) to write them before the shoot. One way of eliciting this kind of information is to ask your expert 'what is the one piece of information you would like visitors to remember from your video?'
  • Provide your interviewee with a list of clear questions that you will at the film shoot. This helps the interviewee formulate articulate responses and eliminate undue ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and other pauses that require editing out. The audience for these videos know nothing about the subject matter and require very basic information. Let your interviewee know that only a fraction of the footage shot will be used so it is important for them to try to articulate their thoughts succinctly.

At the shoot

Brief your interviewee by informing them of the following:

  • Successful interviews include an enthusiastic interviewee. Enthusiasm is shown in gestures, varied intonation and clear responses.
  • Do not end statements on a high intonation that sounds questioning, especially if it is a final statement. This is important to keep in mind when several takes have already occurred as people’s intonation can go flat after saying something several times.
  • The interviewer will not be able to offer verbal cues of understanding (such as ‘uh huh’ etc) that is normal to a conversation because we wish to film only the interviewee’s voice.

Decide where you want the interviewee to look – at you, at an object or at the camera. Looking off camera is usually favoured by filmmakers.

Offer the interviewee notes or prompts placed somewhere out of shot.

Offer a practise run to the interviewee.

After the shoot

If this interviewee is going to be in further interviews, it is a good idea to let them see the interview on tape so they can become more aware of their use of gestures and intonation and remedy either if need be.

Read my previous blog