Sharp Sound and Killer Content: Tips for Recording an Interview

Here at Track5Media, the marketing department is expanding our audio and video marketing. This means getting expert interviews from people in the various industries we work with, recording them, fancying them up, and putting them online. As someone who worked as a print journalist for several years my first thought was, interviews, how easy. Then, my coworkers took me into our tiny podcast room, put these huge headphones over my ears, pushed my chair so that my face was up against a microphone and showed me how to hook up my cell phone to the computer for recording. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed. I felt awkward and out of my comfort zone. Interview someone without taking notes? And I have to hear my voice too. Count me out. Recording is very different from a traditional interview. Although it’s been an adjustment, here are five tips for recording an interview that I’ve learned so far.

Five Tips for Recording an Interview

A woman talking into a microphone preparing to give tips for recording an interview

If you’re like me – intimidated by the recording process, have no fear. If I can do it, anyone can. Here are five tips for recording an interview.

1.     Plan ahead so conversation flows

Before doing a recorded interview, you want to think about who the interviewee is. What are the best questions to ask them to get the most interesting conversation flowing? Once you figure that out, send them the questions ahead of time so that they can look them over. Also, be sure to ask them how much time they have free. The last thing you want is for them to start to cut the interview short because they didn’t expect it to take so long. Once you have everything organized with your interviewee, the last piece of your planning process is figuring out the location. You want to make sure that you have a place to record the interview that is quiet with minimal background noise, and that you have the equipment to record the interview.

2.     Don’t be afraid to stray from your plans

In a perfect world, you’ll have 10 or so questions that you plan to ask. Everything will go according to plan. Your interviewee will answer all of the questions exactly like you anticipate and conversation will flow into the next topic. In reality, you can’t predict how someone is going to answer. Your interviewee could say something that steers the entire interview in a different direction. DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO THAT WAY. Sometimes someone will say something you didn’t expect, and it will take the interview on an even more interesting turn than you predicted in your planning. Being able to recognize this in the moment and change or adjust your questions accordingly is a skill that takes time but is one of the most critical tips for recording an interview.

3.     Minimize background noise… that includes you!

For me, the hardest thing to learn about recording an interview is that you can’t respond the way you normally would. Since you’re talking on the phone, your natural inclination is to verbally indicate that you’re listening. Phrases like, “right,” “yes,” or “of course,” slip out. However, when you’re recording an interview, it’s important not to talk over the person who is talking. It’s safe to assume that they know you’re listening and that you understand what they’re saying, so reserve your impulsive polite signals. This also includes laughing, sighing and any other background noise. To ensure that the interview is crisp and clear, try to eliminate any sound other than the person who’s speaking.

4.     Test your equipment ahead of time

Luckily for me, I have some awesome and techy savvy coworkers who help set up the equipment for a recorded interview. Making sure that the equipment works and is recording both interviews is pretty important for getting sharp sound and killer content in a recorded interview.

5.     Try not to be redundant

You’re making sure your equipment is still functioning. At the same time, you’re keeping track of which questions you already asked and which to ask next. You’re also trying to remember not to laugh or comment while the interviewee is speaking. And of course, in the midst of all this, you’re listening to the interviewee’s answers, of course! When it comes time for you to speak again, don’t be redundant. I really struggle with this. I notice I’ll say things like, “that’s awesome,” or “right, that makes sense.” These redundant phrases can sound extremely annoying and insincere when you play back the interview, so make sure you respond with a variety of phrases. You can also simply state the next question without commenting on the previous answer.

Do you have any tips for recording an interview? Share with us in the comments below!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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