Tips To Succeed On a Video Interview

Hello, SEers. As you can see, today we are going to talk about the best foot forward position should you get the opportunity to do a video interview or presentation on YouTube or elsewhere. Before getting into the tips, let’s set the stage. You are launching a new book, and you get a call from someone wanting to know if you would like to do a video interview. Does your heart freeze? Do your palms turn to fountains and your stomach to a butterfly storage unit? If so, then you have come to the right place. There is no need for any of these feelings if you remember the tips I’m going to share.

The tips fall under one of four areas Light, Sound, Material, and Delivery. Let’s take them one at a time.

Light – I’m sure you have seen videos where you almost believe the recording is in the dark. The person talking is all but invisible in what appears to be a shadow. This is someone who did not give any thought to light.

Not enough light

Before you record a video, turn on the camera and take a look at how you appear, rest assured how you look now will be how you will look on the video.  To get the best light, think in terms of how nature lights up the place. The sun shines directly and indirectly. Direct sunlight is harsh. The indirect is more pleasant. Like nature, there are always shadows. So, what you need to do is record in a room that is well lit. This is either by you or nature. A light above will give you the effect of being bathed. (Think of the Movie Carrie) If you don’t add some indirect light, you will be in harsh light with not favorable results. (Picture your nose casting a large shadow on your mouth.) I prefer to use uplighting from two different sources. All you need is a white ceiling and two lamps positioned on the floor or a table off camera.


Just the Right Amount of Light


Too Much Light (Maybe sun through a window)

Sound – I think we are all aware of how poorly our computer microphones perform. I’m not going to recommend that you run out and buy a broadcast mic but will give a couple of hints on how to maximize your computer mic.

You need to cut down on as much of the ambient noise as you can. Yes, we all know about screaming kids and barking dogs, but other sounds need elimination as well. If you have a ceiling fan, it needs to be turned off.  If you have a humidifier or dehumidifier in the room, they should be turned off.  Your heating and air-conditioning will interfere with the sound, so for the length of the interview, set the thermostat higher or lower depending on the direction that will turn the unit off. Since most videos do not last more than an hour, it won’t kill you. Finally, close the door of the room where you are doing the interview. All these actions will reduce ambient noise and improve your broadcast quality.

Material A well-prepared interview or broadcast is a pleasant experience. This means you should make a list of talking points that you want to cover during your time on the air. If you are going to show anything during the broadcast, make sure that the item is held directly in front of the camera. If you hold it to the side, it will create a trapezoid effect and be hard to read. Also, the light will tend to wash out the writing if it hits the material directly.

Held Right to the Camera

Held Away From the Camera – Glare From the Light


Delivery – You will do well to remember one rule. No law says you have to keep talking. What this means is you don’t need to put “um” into the pauses in conversation. This is a bad habit that is annoying to anyone who views the video. It is tough to break this habit, but not impossible. When you are talking and come to the end of what you want to say, just stop. If it is an interview, the other person will pick up the conversation. If you need to pause in your discussion, just hesitate. You do not need “um” as a filler.

Your delivery should include looking directly into the camera. If you look above, you will resemble a space cadet. If you look below, you will resemble someone ready to fall asleep.

Looking Down at Notes Is Distracting

All notes that you need should be taped on either side of the camera and in 16-point font. You can review notes using your peripheral vision without your audience knowing.

A mention about appearance: unless you have sold a million books, you should appear on camera, looking like an average person.


Look Like This (Well, they say he’s average)

Not Like This

There you have it. I hope this post gives you some tips that you can use. The critical point is to go ahead and do interviews and participate in YouTube events. Just bear these tips in mind.

91 thoughts on “Tips To Succeed On a Video Interview

  1. Pingback: Tips To Succeed On a Video Interview – MI way (Meristem Intelligence® way)

  2. Pingback: Creating a Promotional Author Video | Story Empire

  3. This is very entertaining, John, and all very valid and helpful. I have managed to learn a lot of this through trial and error, especially about the direct overhead lighting. I haven’t made a YouTube for a while as I struggle to get quiet time to do the filming.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve been daring to do some videos for over a year now John. Yup, you described my apprehension perfectly, lol. I appreciate your tips. In my efforts to prepare, I bought a ringlight on an extending tripod to place where I choose. Where exactly do you place your lamps? Thanks for this great instructional 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do dread video interviews. All good advice. I can only use my phone right now to do this, but found out setting my phone in my paperclip bowl creates a strange muffled sound. Luckily this was on my daughter’s podcast so we had a good laugh about it. I tend to under the lighting purposely, but know, and have been told, I need to brighten up. I liked your lighting tips. My biggest problem is looking away, like I have some place to go, I don’t my animals are distracting 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    If you’ve been considering doing a You Tube video or interview to promote your work, you should definitely check out John W. Howell’s post on Story Empire today. Excellent tips and advice on things you might never have considered. (The last photo is worth the visit, all by itself!) Be sure to pass this one along, so others can learn, too. Thanks, and thanks to John for a great post. (Still chuckling, here.) 🙂


  7. A terrific post, John! Now I know some very helpful tips for making a video. All I have to do is convince myself that I’d be fine with total strangers watching it. Even the thought of doing one makes me shiver in discomfort. But that’s actually progress. It means I AM thinking about it.

    Funny, I have no problem at all talking to a “live” audience on subjects I enjoy. I think it’s the face-to-face feedback (and hearing them laugh at my jokes) that makes it easier. But being able to reach a much larger audience has great advantages, too, so I appreciate all your advice. (Note to self: throw away camouflage baseball cap and all bandannas before recording!)

    Saving this to refer to when and if I get the nerve to attempt a video of any kind. And sharing, too, so others can learn. Thanks for the tips, John. 🙂


  8. Oh my goodness, John! That last photo of you made me laugh right out loud! Love it! This is a great post full of spot-on tips that will help with any video interview! Thank you for sharing!


  9. That was an awesome post, John, and I loved the photos to illustrate each point–especially the last one 😀
    I haven’t done many video interviews, but the tips are terrific. We tend to forget about lighting and sound, and there is nothing more annoying then a repetitive “um!”

    P.S….WordPress is still preventing me from “liking” posts. I hate when this happens. Grrrr!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Not liking posts may be your browser. Try a different one. If a different browser works then go back and clear the cache of your regular one. If a different browser doesn’t work then I have no answer. Thanks for the lovely comment, Mae.😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. “No law says you have to keep talking.” Are you sure about that, John?

    Seriously, this is very good advice. These are things most of us wouldn’t think about, or wouldn’t think enough about. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    That said, I kind of like your alter ego 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh, John, you cannot know how much I needed this post today. I have been putting of recording my first ever video I’ve been asked to do. The thought of it has been haunting me for days – and, true to form, I procrastinate. So, the camera is at the top of the laptop – I look into that and not try to look at myself? After three months of total seclusion I have been tempted to try to get away with something like your last photo ( cracked me up!!) – but will now be brave. lol Thanks again. Saving this as a reminder.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I’m really bad at the ‘ums’ and other pause noises. It’s really because my brain suddenly stops and struggles for a weird or phrase. That freeze brings on minor anxiety and I become aware that I’m being watched. Not a good interview subject here.

    Liked by 2 people

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