Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

10 tips for recording a better interview

Posted in Online Video by Adam Westbrook on December 1, 2011

The most exciting power of great multimedia storytelling is the potential to give a voice to those who would otherwise go ignored.

I’m deep into teaching undergraduate students on Kingston University’s journalism program the basics of producing good video stories. They recently finished their first film, portraits of fellow students and how they feel about their job prospects in light of high youth unemployment. A dry-ish topic, and so their challenge was to tease good stories from their subjects, find specific angles and get to the nub of the issue.

The key to doing this is the interview: in most great online video stories & portraits it forms the spine of the narrative. Everything else in the story hangs off the interview.

Watching their first attempts at film making, it was clear conducting good interviews is an issue. So I put together a presentation with 10 tips for recording a better interview – I thought I’d share it here. Lots of this advice has been won through hard experience in my last 8 years of interviewing everyone from genocide survivors to David Cameron; but I’m also grateful to multimedia maestros like Ben Chesterton of Duckrabbit and Brian Storm of MediaStorm for a couple of the specific tips.

Again, there are bound to be things I’ve missed off: let me know in the comments!

10 tips for recording a better video (or audio) interview

NOTE: I’ve published the presentation under a Creative Commons Licence (attribution) – feel free to reuse and share, but please credit.

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14 Responses

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  1. [...] 10 tips for recording a better interview [...]

  2. abidjanito said, on December 2, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Thanks for this. There’s an interesting anecdote in the following recent interview with Wernor Herzog (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlbQF2ht2ic), where he talks about a very brief interview with a death row pastor who broke down when he asked an almost surreal question about squirrels.

  3. Jena Olson said, on December 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I wish I would have had this before starting my interview process and doing hours of my own research to come to the same conclusion. Would’ve been much faster. ;)

    • Adam Westbrook said, on December 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      Haha, well it’s always better to learn by doing than by reading! :)

  4. [...] 10 tips for recording a better video (or audio) interview are at this [...]

  5. [...] 10 tips for recording a better video (or audio) interview are at this [...]

  6. [...] 10 tips for recording a better interview « Adam Westbrook :: online video & entrepreneuria… – Advice from Adam Westbrook for his Kingston Uni course on interviewing people SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Bookmarks for December 13th to January 3rd", url: "http://www.dandavies23.com/2012/01/bookmarks-for-december-13th-to-january-3rd/" }); [...]

  7. [...] 10 tips for recording a better interview [...]

  8. [...] Go for opinion, experience, anecdote: this bit of advice relates directly to interviews and what to get from them. Many interviews are very descriptive and shallow, eliciting facts from the subject alone. This rarely makes interesting watching, so good video storytellers tease specific stories, anecdotes, and opinions from their subjects. Ira Glass values the anecdote too, and you can see more interviewing tips in this post. [...]

  9. [...] are some very useful tips for recording better interviews, published by Adam Westbrook: 10 tips for recording better multimedia interviews ©Adam Westbrook. View more presentations from [...]

  10. [...] link has good general interview tips [...]

  11. [...] 10 tips for recording a better video (or audio) interview [...]

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