ON-CAMERA INTERVIEWS IN THE AGE OF COVID-19: PART 2
In our last post we covered how to prepare for media interviews from a laptop camera as we all practice social distancing and follow stay-at-home orders. This time we address how to handle yourself during and after the interview.
During the Interview:
- Set the Tone – Meeting
someone for the first time via webcam can be awkward and even nerve racking –
especially if it is a reporter or news anchor. To eliminate any discomfort, do
your part to set a welcoming and inviting tone from the very beginning (mostly
for the audience). Before you go live, smile warmly and otherwise keep your
body and face stable – every little bit of movement is magnified on camera. In
the case of broadcasts done over the internet, even small movements can become
that much more jerky and agitated when bandwidth is an issue. Once you are
introduced and have compensated for any audio lags, open with a quick, personable
and relatable greeting. Like any performance, a smooth and steady start will
allow you to exert confidence with each statement that follows.
- Virtual body language is key – To look
engaged and interested, sit forward in your seat and express an energetic
demeanor via smiles and nods when the interviewer is speaking. While it is
tempting to look away from the webcam we recommend creating and maintaining a
sense of “virtual eye contact” by continuously looking directly at the webcam,
not at the screen. Having notes or messages visible on a whiteboard or easel just
beyond the webcam is fine – having that sort of security blanket can be helpful
for some interviews, but it should not become anything you stare at.
- Stand and deliver – Even
better than sitting, standing during an interview can add extra energy to your
delivery. Being upright can improve breathing, which improves speaking, which
improves confidence. So, if you have a rigid, raised computer set up that
allows you to stand, do it. Just watch out for swaying or moving your feet –
this can usually be fixed by simply “squeezing the podium” to keep yourself
grounded and stable.
- Remove all distractions – To give
the interview your full attention we recommend silencing and stopping visual
reminders not only on your laptop, but on all nearby devices (including tablets,
alarm clocks, cell phones, etc.). Putting your computer in presentation mode
can quickly and easily shut down incoming emails, texts, and meeting reminders.
This will prevent any noise or visible distractions from interrupting trains of thought—and most importantly
interrupting a personable connection with the audience! Pro tip: we all like to
check ourselves out in the video window dedicated to our lovely face – if the
platform allows, drag that window to the top center of the screen just below
the webcam itself; this will eliminate lots of eye-darting that even the most
disciplined of us inevitably do.
- Shut down properly – Upon
conclusion of an interview (and a quick nod or “thank you”) return to your
original state of smiling warmly and staying physically stable as you look into
the webcam. Stay like this until you are certain the interview has been
concluded and you are “off the air.” Then be sure to properly turn off your
webcam (and all audio) and/or leave the chatroom before digging into other
calls, work, meals or bedtime. You don’t want your post-interview moments to
accidentally get aired or captured out there in the ether.
- Maintain the connection – To
demonstrate your full engagement and interest in being an interview subject
again, we recommend some type of email exchange following the interview to
answer any lingering questions and be a stable source during what can feel like
unstable times. This may come directly from you or via your communications
team, depending on the relationship. This would be a good time to ask if there
are any tips they have for you to keep improving your webcam presence –
because, hey, you’re gonna want to keep doing this, right?!
Just as our new lives sheltering-in-place may forever change the
way we approach telecommuting, we expect that cable and broadcast television
may further accept the new webcam aesthetic as a perfectly viable production
option in the post-COVID-19 future. Now is the time to embrace it, master it,
and add new tools to your on-camera presence toolbelt!
By: Kelly Gilbert, Account Coordinator, and Talley Summerlin, SVP