Live vs. Memorex
We're pulling apart the long and complex process of
understanding what makes good interviews and what doesn't.
In past weeks, I have suggested you do diligent homework,
observe all the formalities, set the ground rules, and
really listen to your subject. In this installment, we take
a look at the differences between live and taped interviews.
Ultimately, the only hard and fast rule is that there are
hard and fast rules. There are some generalities, however,
that are not so much rules as ideas to think about as you
prepare and conduct your interviews.
In live interviews, while they may seem nerve-wracking for
everything that could go wrong, and actually considerably
more free-wheeling than taped interviews that are intended
to be used as part of a larger package. Needless to say,
you can never get your subject to say or use precisely the
words you want them to use (that's the magic chemistry of
interviewing!). However, in your taped interviews, there
a much stronger sense that you need to cover a specific
topic or address a specific issue, and while you may not
live on the air, you are rolling tape!
There are many approaches to interviewing; many good
approaches even. My thoughts about live interviews are that
you have a huge job to do simply to reduce the fear, anxiety
and aprehension of your guest, so that they will sound their
best. Because of that, I tend to concentrate more on
personal feelings questions, personal observations and
reflections. In your live segment, you are much freer to
let your questions wander wherever they might lead you.
In your taped interviews, think them out carefully. If
there is no possiblity you will see or hear a certain topic
in your final package, don't ask it, or rather avoid it if
at all possible. For example, if you are profiling a 50
year marriage between Bob and Betty, and you wonder whether
their longevity came from their parents marriages - AND you
do not intend to talk about their parents - don't waste time
exploring that subject. This may not be easy, if you need
some time to warm your subject up to the topic, some of that
'warm-up' time may not end up in your final package, but
be necessary to get your subject to address the subject of
the story. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for real
life experience; you simply have to conduct enough
interviews to build your own confidence, and be able to get
your subject to their comfort zone as soon as possible.
So, in summary, live interviews have lots more freedom with
regards to where you let the conversation wander, but are
unforgiving if you make a mistake. Taped interviews are
technically easy (you can always edit!), but directing the
conversation to the subject you need your interviewee to
cover may be difficult.
Until next week, breath deeply!