There was once a time when media interviews conducted on the phone for radio or on webcam for TV were more the exception than the norm. Now, thanks to social distancing and snap lockdowns, journalists and commentators alike have embraced the new era of virtual communication.
While technology certainly has benefits, in the case of a virtual media interview, there are also drawbacks. Media interviews can be daunting for many people, no matter how highly positioned someone is within a company. Adding those nerves to the complexities of video technology can impact a strong performance.
It’s important for company spokespeople to be as comfortable in a virtual news environment as they may already be in the real one.
Here are a few interview tips from our playbook to get your talent camera-ready and set for a successful virtual media interview:
- We go by the old adage – failing to prepare is preparing to fail. So, consider who is interviewing you, who your audience is, what the story angle is, whether it will be live or pre-recorded and who else will be present for the interview?
- Anticipate questions which could arise and structure a response. Keep your key messages front of mind but also give some thought to the tough questions you might be asked.
- Practise, practise, practise! But remember to keep it real. It’s important to be able to create a conversation instead of reciting a script.
- Get comfortable discussing industry trends and hot topics. This will assist in positioning you as a thought leader and increase the likelihood of media contacting you for additional commentary in the future.
- Think of the setting for your interview as your ‘handshake’ or first impression. Choose a plain, natural toned wall to sit in front of and clear all clutter from the background. If this isn’t possible, then use a virtual background, again, choosing something minimal and non-distracting.
- Ensure the room is well lit so you are clearly visible and make sure there is no background noise to disturb you and distract your listeners.
- Think about your equipment. Although wireless earbuds and laptop cameras are common and accepted, higher quality equipment will give you better control of the success of the interview. You can find affordable options for external microphones, webcams and ring lights online and at department stores.
- Log on for the interview with plenty of time to settle in and have a quick chat with the journalist. This can help shake off some nervousness and get the conversation flowing before the formal interviewing begins. BUT do remember that what you say is still “on the record”.
- If the interviewer pauses for a moment during the interview, don’t feel you need to fill the silence. It is fine to take a short pause to gather your thoughts before answering.
- Speak to the camera, not down at the screen to yourself or the person you are speaking to. It may feel strange and unnatural but looking directly into the camera lens is the same as maintaining direct eye contact with the person you are speaking to in real life.