Let’s (Video) Chat: How to Prepare for a Virtual Media Interview

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, social distancing and the new (though hopefully temporary) normal of working from home, media may no longer be “going to the source” for an interview. Out of an abundance of caution, news organizations are now using video conferencing as an avenue to conduct live or taped interviews. From TV stations to online media outlets, video chat services like Skype, Facetime and Zoom are now a large part of newsgathering and reporting. So what does this mean for you if you’ve been asked to log on and take part in an interview? Here are some tips from our Jackson Spalding Coaching Team to keep in mind when taking part in a virtual media interview:

12 Tips for the Perfect Virtual Media Interview

Be sure your internet connection is strong and secure. Whenever possible, use a hardwired internet connection. WiFi has come a long way, but it can still drop out right when you are making your main point in an interview. If you must use a wireless connection, make sure you are in an area with a very robust and reliable WiFi signal.

Place your laptop on a platform so the webcam is at eye level. This will look much more buttoned up and prevent you from looking hunched over when speaking to the camera.

Dress like you’re going to be on TV. You may be working from home, but you don’t want to look like it. Dress professionally and in solid colors, as they always translate best on screen. However, slippers are allowed!

Watch your body language. While your words may be conveying the right message, your body could be saying the opposite. To ensure your message is received the way it is intended, sit up straight and be conscious of your movements.

If there is a username on your videoconferencing system, make sure it is your full name, not anything cute or catchy. Same goes for a profile picture – make sure it is a professional image that helps you put your best foot forward.

Log on in advance and make sure your audio and video are working. Never wait until “go” time to work out the bugs. This will keep you from wasting time and ensure you appear professional through and through.

Try to conduct your interview in a room with strong ambient lighting. Webcams do not work well in low light, and a room with large light sources will go a long way toward producing a better image. If you can, try to position yourself so you are facing a window so you can take full advantage of the natural lighting.

Check your background. A solid colored wall with tasteful artwork behind you is best. Be sure there is nothing in the background (like a family photo) that you might not want to share with the public or may be distracting to those on the other end of the video call.

Be careful not to answer too quickly and “step” on the interviewer’s question. Jumping in too soon can lead to awkward moments and bad sound quality because video conference software cannot tell who the primary speaker should be. Be patient and take turns providing questions and responses.

Close all other programs on your computer. You don’t want a meeting reminder or a chat with a colleague popping up in the middle of the interview, so be mindful to also mute any notifications.

Shut your office door to make sure no one interrupts your interview. Remember this guy? Also, don’t forget to put your phone on silent.

And, practice! Be sure you have your messaging down pat and know what you do and do not want to talk about. This will not only help you feel prepared in the moment, but you will also become more comfortable in the discussion.

While we hope virtual media interviews won’t be the norm for much longer, using these tips and tricks will help ensure that you get your messaging across, loud and clear.