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Tips for Video Call Media Interviews

Remote working during COVID-19 has presented a raft of new challenges for conducting everyday business.

Without the simplicity of a face to face conversation, it’s vital to find new ways of ensuring you’re communicating effectively. No more so than when engaging with the media.

Whether you’re a video call novice or a seasoned professional, being interviewed ‘down the line’ through your computer or phone can be a daunting experience. With this guide you can recreate the television studio experience from the comfort of your home and confidently deliver a professional interview.

Setting Up

Choose a video programme

Your interviewer will have a preferred programme that might be unfamiliar to you. Skype or Zoom require a hyperlink invitation, while Facebook messenger allows friends to call each other, but in all cases you must have the app downloaded onto your computer or phone. FaceTime is a simple alternative that works across Apple devices and is a useful backup plan, which you must have in case of a technical failure.

Set up your ‘studio’

Choose a room where you can minimise noise and prevent disruption with lighting that you can control and a plain background. Smaller rooms are ideal and put a note on the door to remind family not to disturb. The room will be lit differently in the day and evening, so adjust the blinds and lighting to suit the time you’ll be on camera. Think about what the viewer will see in the room – ensure it’s simple and tidy.

Perfect your shot

If using a laptop, place it on a small stack of books to ensure the camera is at eye level, not pointing upward to your chin and the ceiling. For a phone or tablet, craft a makeshift stand and place your device horizontally. Adjust the position to ensure your head and chest are framed in the centre of the shot, then check your background again.

Before the interview

Dress appropriately

Wear smart clothing appropriate to your usual role, such as a shirt and tie, rather than your ‘working from home’ attire which may be too casual. Block colours look best, while patterns and noisy jewellery should be avoided.

Retest your technology

Test your internet connection, camera and sound at least 30 minutes before the scheduled interview time. If something is not working, revert to your back up plan and alert the journalist/producer. Double check the framing, lighting, background and your appearance.

Go ‘dark’

Turn off all apps, programmes and notifications that might interrupt the interview, and silence your phone. Allow around 10 minutes to be in position and collect yourself while on standby.

During the Interview

Use body language

Nod and smile when appropriate to show that you’re engaged in the conversation and that you’re listening to the question. Non-verbal cues are particularly important in down the line interviews to reassure the interviewer and audience.

Make eye contact

Make eye contact with your interviewer via the camera lens. Don’t be drawn into looking at your own image – this makes for a very disengaging interview for the audience and you’re sure to become distracted.

Have a conversation

Speak in a conversational tone and answer questions concisely, taking no more than 10 seconds to ensure the interviewer can ask relevant follow ups. Pause before speaking to allow for any time delay and to avoid speaking over the top of the interviewer.

 

For bespoke media training conducted virtually contact media@mhpc.com

Download Tips for Video Call Media Interviews here