Zoom: Media Interview Tips

Three of our clients have been invited onto the radio this month and had the interview filmed for showing online. Delivering online interviews professionally is not as easy as it looks. Here are our top tips. You’ll also find most of these useful for other types of down-the-line presentation too.

Set up

1.    Check your internet speed. If it’s too slow find somewhere else. Check your camera and microphone are working.

2. Consider what you’re wearing. Make it plain and professional. Bold colours (red, blue etc.) usually work much better than black, white or beige. If appropriate, check your make-up and that the audience isn’t staring down your cleavage (it happens!).

 3.    Find a quiet space and then consider the background. You need good lighting on your face (check for shadows, you don’t want one cutting your face in half). Consider using lamps to improve the lighting. If you can’t find a plain background find one as near as possible to that. Bookcases are fine if you have time to look at ALL the titles to check there isn’t one that would embarrass you.  Check for plugs sockets or other background features that could be distracting.

 3.    Turn off all the other applications on your computer so nothing pings up mid-call and turn your phones off (mobile and landline). Let others in the house know you can’t be disturbed. If there is no-one else in the home, put a note on your front door to ensure no-one rings the bell. Lock the door to the room, if you can, to ensure people don’t forget and put a note on it (people do forget and will come knocking!).

 4.    Put your laptop on a book or something to bring the camera up to be level with your eyes, you don’t want to be looking down at it (a very common mistake). If you can, check with the producer that the camera is at the right height. Sit with your bum at the back of the chair.

The Interview

6.    Look into the camera.  Looking to one side or another looks shifty. It can feel strange, but you need to keep looking directly into the camera without looking away, even for a moment (it is what we would normally do as we consider answers). This means you can’t refer to notes. One very common mistake on Zoom is to look at the people speaking. That’s fine for conference calls but not for presentations or media interviews.

 7.    Try to treat the camera as a person, be friendly with it and interact in a relaxed way as you would your best friend; smile and show emotion. This is no time for formality, the interviewees the media like best are those that manage to achieve the chatty, best friend style, even it’s a serious or complex issue (it’s the reason people like Holly Willoughby are in such high demand. Stephen Hawkins was popular because he could explain the complex simply and with humour).

 8.    Assume you can be seen at all times. Don’t get up until a good minute after the sign off.

 9.    If something does go wrong (you’re interrupted, the line is bad), don’t panic, the human angle is now much more accepted. Smile and apologise.

 10.  Be chatty, but be careful not to ramble on too long. Listen for clues from the interviewer. If your answers are too long they will interrupt, if not long enough they will probably pause before they ask another question as they were expecting you to go on longer. If your answers are too short, they may also ask you to elaborate. If you find that they keep doing that then make your answers longer and chattier. If you’re out of time they may have to cut you off mid-sentence. Don’t fight it or take offence.

 Good luck! And if you want coaching, please get in touch.