The backdrop looks great. The lighting is near perfect. Audio is good. We are rolling! But wait, what is this? We have a bad interview. He is not speaking in complete thoughts. His energy is awful. None of this interview is usable. S***! Now what?

The very best intended video productions will go straight into the trash bin if the interviewee fails on-camera. The best lighting, backdrop and audio will mean nothing unless you are able to get usable, impactful soundbites from your on-camera interviews. While some people are naturally gifted speakers, many are not and the practice of doing a formal, sit down on-camera interview is not natural for most people. For most video teams, this is an after-thought until it is too late. Don’t put yourself in this position. Experienced video story-tellers know how to get the most out of any on-camera interview and there are some simple things you can do upfront to ensure you get the soundbites you need:

Find the most gifted speakers.

This is not as easy as it seems. In fact, this is a frequent challenge for our team. Most clients want to showcase their leader on-camera but the CEO or President is not always the best speaker on staff. In fact, he or she is often not the most gifted presenter. Your job, as someone in charge with the success of the video, is to gently suggest that the client literally put their best face forward. Often this is met with resistance, but once you explain the reason why, and the fact you can showcase other, often over-looked members of the leadership team, many clients will agree with the reasoning. Picking the right on-camera talent will save you a lot of time and help ensure the success of the video.

Assign speakers homework.

Practice really can produce results when it comes to messaging. Once you have settled on your on-camera speakers, assign them some messaging homework. Assign them at least three important messages to practice before shoot day. Be careful here. You don’t want them to memorize word for word, as that would make for a robotic, canned performance. Instead I encourage my interviewees to practice answering the question in their own way, but without writing it down. Answer in two to three sentences and that should give us what we need in editing.

Relax them on Shoot Day

You have probably seen this trick put in play but it really does help.  On the day of the shoot when your guest is in the hot seat and you are nearly ready to go, get her talking! The topic is irrelevant really. The weather, last nights big game, ask her about her role with the company, really anything, but get her talking. It does a couple of things including relaxing the guest, while also warming up the pipes. Whatever you do, DO NOT sit there with your guest in awkward silence. In this case, silence is deadly.

Put these three recommendations in place and and you will see a return on your investment in the form of usable sound bites.

Rich Dubek is a two-time Emmy award winning TV news reporter with more than twenty five years of news media experience at the local and network level. He is President of the Dubek Media Group, specializing in expert media training and on-air coaching, and full service video production. The Dubek Media Group is based in Tempe, Arizona.