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Posted By Healthcare Video Edge on 10/29/2019

Relax, Doctor. This Video Interview Won't Hurt a Bit!

Relax, Doctor. This Video Interview Won't Hurt a Bit!

Over my TV and video producing career I’ve sat across from hundreds of doctors – interviewing them for bio videos, procedure explainers, patient testimonials, news stories, fundraising videos and all kinds of other projects. It’s my job and I love it. 

For my interview subjects, however, video interviews are not a normal part of their job. Doctors can feel as vulnerable in front of a camera as we patients do when perched on an exam table in a paper gown. I’ve learned a few things over the years to help them loosen up, come across well and actually enjoy being on camera. Here’s my “Relax, Doctor. This on-camera interview won’t hurt a bit” list:

Tell them what to expect: Just as a patient feels better knowing what will happen at a procedure or appointment, let the doctor know how this video shoot will go. Prior to the shoot, we send a simple document that outlines when to arrive, how long the shoot will take, what they should wear, the kinds of questions we’ll be asking, and how to reach us if they need to know more. Answering frequently asked questions ahead of time, and addressing any concerns, lessens the likelihood of them cancelling and increases their confidence.

Respect their time: Setting up for a video interview can take a while. In order for people to look and sound their best, multiple lights, microphones, camera(s) and their accompanying cords need to be put in place. Sometimes we need a backdrop or chroma key screen, which also require meticulous lighting and extra time. We schedule the doctor to arrive after we’re at least 90% set up. A minute or two of adjusting for exactly their height, skin tone, clothing etc is fine, but having them sit there for long periods of time while the crew sets up can be frustrating and nerve racking. Also, the few minutes of getting them settled and doing a mic check should be spent talking with them about their weekend, the weather, their family – not about all of the video equipment or the upcoming interview. Patients don’t want to talk about syringes or speculums as they arrive at their appointment, doctors shouldn’t focus on the Hollywood-like set around them. Friendly small talk helps them settle into a pain-free and pleasant experience. 

Another way we respect a doctor’s time is by gathering as much as possible in one sitting. Sometimes we’re just popping by for a quick sound bite, but often when we get onto a doctor’s schedule, it’s for a bio video or a more in-depth interview about a certain topic. If we’ve scheduled, say, a half-hour time block, we get their permission to use that time to gather as much material as we can. For instance, our most popular bio video package results in three finished videos. We also transcribe the interviews so the MarCom team can mine that content for blog post, article and social media post material. We ask the team if there are questions they’d like us to include, even if they aren’t related to our original interview purpose. Rather than schedule three or four different times with a doctor to gather content for multiple needs, we help accomplish that in one swoop. 

Let them feel in control: I like to start an interview by letting a doctor know that this isn’t an interrogation. This is about them, and we’re here to make them look good. We remind them we will only be using the best sound bites. Stumbles, re-starts and mess-ups won’t be seen by anyone. I remind them they’re the expert on everything we’ll be asking. Maybe we’re asking about a certain treatment or procedure. Or, in the case of doctor bio videos, we’re asking about the doctor themself! They know this stuff; we’re simply guiding them with our questions. Telling them up front that we’ll be asking things they are expert in – things they probably talk with patients about every day – relaxes them. Once we get started, they quickly get into their comfort zone.

Offer them a drink: No, we don’t mean a flask – although it has been suggested! Have a small stool or table just off camera, but within reach, with water available. It’s also nice to include tissues and some space where they can set their things – badge, silenced cell phone, keys, pens from pockets etc. Most people get a dry mouth when they’re nervous and talking a lot. Room temperature (not ice cold) water is best, as cold water can tighten vocal cords. Straws are a good idea, too, to avoid spilling on clothes or messing up lipstick. Speaking of lipstick … 

Consider Make Up: Every time we bring in a professional make up artist, I am convinced that the providers perform better on camera. It took me a lot of years to come to this conclusion, but it has consistently proven true. At every shoot, we bring a simple make up kit to do things such as powder shiny foreheads or spray some flyaway hairs, when we’ve had pros handle the make up and hair it’s been well worth the extra money and time. Not only do the doctors look their best, they seem to feel more confident and prepared for their on-camera debut. Of course, the expert and natural-looking make up application looks great on camera, but the more important part is the “bedside manner” of the make up artists. They’re just so good at getting people mentally prepared for their camera time. They’re used to working with actors and models, and part of their skill set is making them feel good and feel ready for their big moment. Yes, the make up adds to the time of a shoot. Instead of asking for a half hour from a doc, we’d likely ask for an hour – a good 20 minutes or more for simple make up (even for men) and then the half hour for the on camera part. And yes, it also adds to the cost of a shoot. You can expect to spend between $600 and $750 for an experienced make up artist to set up shop for the day. (Usually in a room next door to the interview location) They’ll provide all of the make up, the hairspray, the expertise and the confidence-building conversation. Most interview days we interview 12 doctors and get three videos from each interview. When you spread that investment out over 36 videos, we find it’s worth the splurge.

Show gratitude: When a doctor takes time out of his or her busy schedule to sit in front of lights and cameras to answer questions, we should thank them. We do that at the time of the video shoot, but following up with a nice email showing appreciation for their time, and letting them know the results of that time, can go a long way in capping off a positive experience. Here’s an example: “Thank you for your time at our recent video shoot. The half hour you spent with us resulted in three videos, a blog post, two quotes for an article and a social media post. You’ll soon be seeing these on our website and social media channels.” Of course it should be detailed and customized to each doctor, but you get the point that showing them that you made the most of their valuable time is a reminder that their investment matters. And when they actually see the finished results, they’ll be even more impressed.

Doing the above things will result in enthusiastic ambassadors that tell their colleagues “that wasn’t so bad.” More importantly, you’ll get authentic, effective video content from even the most camera-shy of doctors. Before you know it, video shoots won’t be seen as painful, but as a fun and fruitful way to showcase your rock star docs and grow their practices.