How to plan a 1-person interview
Mark Horton avatar
Written by Mark Horton
Updated over a week ago

1-person interviews are a fantastic way for your audience to gain insight into the expertise or experience of your interviewee. Here's a great example of a 1-person interview made by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Australia:

There are good reasons to why and how you should plan your video in general, like for an efficient shoot for example. So, for optimal results, you might want to consider these best practices on how to plan a 1-person interview.

VARIANTS of the 1-person video interview

  • Testimonials

  • Thought leadership videos

  • Staff Profile videos

  • Behind-the-scenes videos

  • 60 seconds with X // 10 questions for X

The 1-person interview structure

Here's a great example of a 1-person interview made by Qantas on Shootsta:

Planning for a 1-person video interview might sound pretty straight forward. It’s listing a bunch of questions, right?! How much planning do you really need? Check out our video on how to plan a 1-person interview:

To plan out your 1-person video interview and relevant cutaways you’ll need a:

The basic structure of a 1-person interview has 4 essential parts + relevant cutaways.

1. Introduction

As with any video, the introduction is where you grab and keep your audience’s attention. Let’s breakdown what that looks like for a 1-person interview:

  • Within 3 seconds, grab attention: Have your interviewee to answer a provocative question or to give a bold statement on the topic to create an “eye-catcher”.

e.g. “I never thought that one day I would be leading a business.”
e.g. “This new service will change the way we work.”

  • Within the first 10 seconds, set the scene: Let your interviewee introduce themselves and establish their expertise. Keep it short and to the point.

e.g. “Hi, I’m Jane. I’m the CEO of Example Business, and I’ve been innovating in the technology space for twenty years.”

  • Within the first 30 seconds, communicate your key message: let your interviewee establish the problem or need they’re addressing or the beginning of their ‘story’

e.g. ‘Too many businesses think that the key to great video content is…’
e.g. ‘When I started my career, I believed…’.

  • After that, encourage them to give a very brief outline of their topic. Like a roadmap for the rest of your interview.

e.g. ‘What I’ve learned is that there are three secrets to great video: Point 1, Point 2, and Point 3’.

2. (Questions &) Answers

The questions and answers part make up the body of your video, so for best results your questions need to be well formulated, regardless of whether you want to keep your questions in or take them out from the final edit. Here are some things to consider:

  • Use open questions and avoid closed questions that might trigger a “yes” or “no”.

e.g. closed question: Q: “Do you like working here?” - A: “Yes.”
e.g. open question: Q: “What is it like to work here?” - A: “It’s great to work here! I love the culture and the people.”

  • Plan your question based on your desired answer as some questions can lead to multiple types of answers. One example of this is planning whether you need a subjective or objective response:

e.g. Q: “How is the weather today?” - A: “It’s clear and windy.” (Objective)
e.g. Q: “How are you finding the weather today?” - A: “It’s terrible. The wind nearly blew me away.” (Subjective)

  • If you know what answer and keywords you’re after, make sure to steer your questions in that direction.

e.g. Q: “What is it like to work here?
e.g. Q: “What is it like to work here as a graduate?”

  • Keep your questions short and clear by splitting out larger ones into follow up questions.

e.g. Q: “Can you tell me a little more about how that works?
e.g. Q: “And what happened after that?

  • List your questions chronologically and make sure they’re in a logical order, following the structure of the video.

  • Keep your interviewee’s answers unscripted so your interview feels natural and authentic. In your planning, just list a few key talking points of things to capture. Remember, you can use your questions to direct their answers.

How many answers should you include?

On average it takes about 15 seconds to formulate an answer to a single question. More complex topics might take a little longer to explain. In general, people respond best to videos that are between 1 and 1.5 minutes long. Figure out how long you want your video to be, using our article on The Optimal Video Length as a guide, and with that duration and the complexity of the topic in mind, you’ll be able to figure out how many questions to include.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion is where your interviewee connects their answers back to the key message and wraps up the interview.

e.g. “The one thing I wish I knew about growing a business is …”
e.g. “What all these experiences have taught me is that it’s all about …”

4. Call to action (CTA)

Make sure you have a clear call to action at the end of your video. For a 1-Person Interview, there are two common types of calls to action: the recommendation, and the end slide.

1-Person Interviews are all about expertise and authenticity, which mean that you’re setting up for the viewer to trust the interviewee. For that reason, you can frame your CTA as a recommendation:

e.g. “I’d recommend to anybody starting out in the industry that they contact...”
e.g. “The best way to learn to succeed in this environment is to sign up for...”

Sometimes a recommendation won’t make sense for your video or for your business. In these cases, you can finish the interview after the conclusion and use a slide with text on screen.

e.g. “To find out more, visit…”
e.g. “Donate now at…”

Relevant Cutaways

Cutaways are related or illustrative shots used to break away from the interviewee shot. Sometimes the interviewee’s voice will continue as a voice-over. They keep things visually interesting for your viewer and they can help them to visualise the message.

Plan out the structure of the interview first and then identify matching cutaways.

For abstract topics (e.g. happiness, personal growth, career opportunities, innovation, creativity, future, etc.) illustrative cutaways can be challenging as there isn’t always something physical to film. Try to think of ways you can demonstrate these topics or ideas in an indirect way.

Let’s say the topic of your interview is about career opportunities. You could plan for some general shots of your interviewee at work, interacting with others and the service or product. You could use some generic stock footage where relevant and possible.

Alternatively, you could plan for two camera angles: one mid shot and one close-up shot of your interviewee to alternate shots.

Need help or have questions? Contact us! We'd love to help!

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