Thompson & Co. Public Relations has given you the tools to master the art of the interview, but how do you put those tools to work now that the world is social distancing? This new normal has us turning nearly every human interaction into a virtual one – including media interviews. Many of us have become comfortable with video conferencing applications like Zoom, but there’s more to consider when your Zoom call is being recorded and aired on the evening news than when you’re catching up with friends during a virtual happy hour.
We enlisted the help of a producer from NBC’s TODAY Show to share some tips that will ensure you look and sound your best on your next virtual interview. Parenthesis in our tips below come straight from the expert.
- Prepare yourself mentally and wear something comfortable, but professional. (Go through the same routine you would as if you were going into the office. It gives you a burst of energy hard to replicate in pajamas).
- Make sure your internet connection is set up correctly to avoid pixelated or delayed video. Encourage housemates to refrain from internet use for the duration of your interview as well.
- Wherever you decide to set up your camera, you’ll want it at eye level in a quiet, distraction-free environment. (The up the nose shot is not flattering). Placing your laptop on a stack of books is an easy way to achieve this effect.
- Don’t ignore what’s behind you – a clean and tidy background is ideal. (You want the interviewee to see you and FEEL that this is comfortable, yet official). T&C also recommends using a virtual background–akin to a virtual step and repeat–as an extra way to get your brand into the story and avoid any background mishaps. Check out this great example from an interview T&C coordinated for Matson.
- Be aware of your lighting. If you have a window or light behind you, it could make you appear like you’re in the dark. Instead, position yourself so your main source of light is behind your camera, illuminating your face.
- Make sure your profile name is your actual name. If you prefer to not have your full name, feel free to update it with just your first name.
- Position the video conferencing window at the top of your screen so you’re looking directly into the camera. This will create the experience of actual eye contact for the other participants.
- Avoid headphones if possible, unless background noise is out of your control.
- Prepare and practice talking points so you feel comfortable with the topics you’ll be covering in your interview.
- Practice the video conferencing tips above with a friend or family member prior to your interview.
- Smile, you’re on camera! Sit up straight, act professionally and be aware of your body language.
- Wait for the full question to be asked, pause a few seconds and then answer. (We can’t use it if your answer is covered by our voice).
- Maintain eye contact.
Still have questions? Check out this video from T&C’s Social Media Coordinator Caitlin Weaver, who demonstrates some of these tips and more. Just like an in-person interview, practice and preparedness is key to feeling comfortable and coming across as an expert source.
And in any case, this advice will also have you looking your best at your next Zoom happy hour or book club meeting.