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Pre-recorded interviews: the toughest format

25 May 2021

pre-recorded interviews

Your well planned and strategised interview starts with a phrase, an idea or concept. You then articulate your argument, building a case, reflecting the journalists’ language, trying to stick to the main point and deliver your position with poise and brevity. And then when you read it, hear it or see it – it bears only a passing resemblance to the original source material.

There’s no way around the imbalance of the pre-recorded interview – unless you really have your wits about you; what goes into the sausage machine is often quite different from what comes out.

But the problem is more than the length of the conversation: the time it took for you to make your point. The issue is that reporters have a totally different view of what ‘works’ compared to you were you to be the one choosing the segment. And it’s not just in news; documentary making uses the same system albeit at a slightly higher ratio.

You see, from where you’re sitting the most important factor above all others is identifying the best bit of your interview in terms of where you absolutely nailed what it was you planned to say. Trouble is, from the reporter’s position – the content acts as only one of a whole series of criteria they have to consider in order to qualify your ‘clip’ for possible inclusion.

Here’s some others…

– There’s the amount of time it’s taking you to say it, to consider.
– There are artistic issues such as sound quality and changes in the light, if it’s TV.
– Does it work grammatically? If we selected a certain clip would the rhythm of the speech sound truncated.
– What about the complex or institutionalised language? Does the audience get the jargon?

Now, perhaps, you can begin to see why pre-recorded interview – or non-live – interviews are fraught with potholes.

One of the most important lessons delegates learn during our Media Training sessions is the way to control and combat this most unhelpful of formats. Planning, preparing, rehearsing and finally delivering on Zoom, Teams, to a microphone, iPhone, face to face – there’s no substitute for sure fire techniques that’ll help create a reasonable facsimile between what goes in…and what comes out.