Becky’s Affiliated: Top tips on how to film the best Skype video interview

Becky’s Affiliated: Top tips on how to film the best Skype video interview

I love to shoot Skype Video interviews for my Becky’s Affiliated columns and I do it all from the comfort of my very own home. Recently I’ve had a number of readers asking for advice on how to film the best quality Skype video interview, so I decided to dedicate this week’s column to revealing my top tips on how to film them for your audience.

Seeing as video content is blowing up these days, knowing how to produce the best quality Skype video interview is not only essential, its also super easy and requires minimal investment. I also find Skype video is a wonderful way to engage interviewees who might be camera shy, as having a “guided video chat” is much less intimidating than having a professional camera pointed at your face.

So without further ado, here it goes…

Purchase and download Skype Call Recorder 

For a one-time payment of $40 USD, you can download the Call Recorder and after five plus years and several computers, it has never once let me down. The interface is so easy to use and you can save all your recorded calls into a designated file on your computer.

Below is a snapshot of the settings I personally use, but I suggest you play around with it and see what settings suit your needs best.

Becky’s Affiliated: Top tips on how to film the best Skype video interview

Set yourself up with the best possible lighting

Having the best possible lighting is of upmost importance- you can easily add or take away ten years from your appearance depending on what kind of lighting you use. I suggest filming your Skype videos during the day and facing a window so you have natural light illuminating your face and surroundings.

Purchase an LED light- a simple reading light with a clip such as the one I use and bought for £8 will do the trick- and point it straight at your face for frontal lighting.

Find a way to set up the light directly behind and just above your computer, no more than several feet away from you. By doing so, you’ll create a flattering “halo” effect in your eyes and the LED light will soften the features of your face, smoothing out shadows, lines, etc.

Best camera angle, chair and background 

Becky’s Affiliated: Top tips on how to film the best Skype video interviewWhen choosing the best location to set yourself up, I recommend sitting in a chair that does not have any wheels, otherwise you may find yourself swaying back and forth. Most people won’t notice their swaying until they review the footage after the interview, annoyingly.

Set your computer to a 90-degree angle (or an “L” shape) and depending on the height of your table, prop up your computer on something – a book or two, for example- so the computer’s camera is right at your eye line.

When setting everything up, be aware of your background as well, having a picture or plant in the background always looks nice. Make sure everything is centered, otherwise an uneven background might be distracting to your audience.

To check all of the above, simply launch FaceTime (if you’re on a Mac) and you can get an idea of what you and your background will look like once you make your Skype video call.

Clear audio and anticipating potential interruption

If you are lucky enough to have access to a lav mic and receiver, use them for your audio as the sound will be much clearer than if you use your computer’s onboard mic.

However, most people won’t have access to this type of expensive filming equipment, so just be sure to shut all the doors, turn off the volume on your phone (and turn it face down to avoid distraction) and close all the applications on your computer apart from Skype.

Closing all the applications on your computer will also help improve the quality and clarity of your Skype call.  Be sure to advise your interviewee to do the same, there is nothing worse than having technical difficulties and a problem understanding each other.

Lastly, please don’t forget to tell your colleagues, kids, partner, pets, etc, to avoid entering the room in which you’re filming unless you want a situation like this:

Confirming interviewees

A recurring issue I have had in the past comes in the form of interviewees cancelling on me last minute, likely because they do not realize there is set-up involved and assume rescheduling is easy.

To avoid a situation like this, I suggest touching base with your interviewee the day before and the day of filming to confirm the call and explain the set-up required on your end. Try to get their Skype handle as soon as the interview is confirmed so you have a direct line to the interviewee prior to and on the day of the shoot.

Preparing interviewees (and yourself)

Once you have confirmed your interviewee, be sure to make it clear you will be filming a Skype VIDEO interview as opposed to audio- there is often confusion, especially if you’re communicating through a PR rep or EA.

Find out if your interviewee is nervous about the video call and if they are, maybe send them questions in advance and assure them you can have a casual skype video chat first, before turning the recorder on. I find my nervous interviewees loosen right up after a few minutes of casual chatter, so perhaps build this “pre-interview” time into your schedule if necessary.

If you are nervous about forgetting your questions as an interviewer, create a “cheat sheet” and place it on the table in front of you and your computer so you can glance down at it here and there, your interviewee and viewers won’t even notice.