With so many months working from home under our belt, by now we have all had our fair share of video conference calls with colleagues, clients, family and friends.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have had to quickly adjust, learning to create meetings, join calls and get accustomed to speaking on split screens like a scene from The Brady Bunch.
These types of calls with family, friends, or even colleagues, can be very informal, but there are times when more preparation is required.
Here are some quick pieces of advice should you need to prepare for a media interview in this age of video conferencing.
Preparing for the call
Determine which device you will be using to make the video call. It is recommended to use a webcam, as the image obtained is generally better than the front camera of a cell phone or tablet.
Next, it's important to prepare the location for the interview. Start by framing the camera correctly, which will allow you to think about your background setting.
For example, avoid pointing the camera at an area that is cluttered with objects in order to provide a setting that is not distracting to your interviewer or to viewers (if the interview will be broadcast on TV). A virtual background can be fun, but only if it is relevant to the story. Otherwise, make sure the background is professional and relevant to the topic of the interview.
Consider illuminating your face, bringing in natural light from a window in front of you or to the side. A lamp aimed slightly at your face will do the trick without blinding you. There is no need to invest in a ring light unless you really want to get an extra effect.
Important things to check before the interview
To avoid distractions, be sure to turn off notifications from any device around you, including the one being used for the interview (computer, tablet, cell phone, etc.), by turning off the ringer and vibration. Put your phone in "do not disturb" mode or, better yet, "airplane mode" – unless, of course, it is the device you are using for the interview.
If applicable, turn off or lower the ring volume of your landline, as well as any other sound source (radio, TV), since the microphone of an Internet camera, phone or tablet usually picks up all background sound.
If you are using a phone, tablet or laptop, make sure it is fully charged or, better yet, plugged into an electrical outlet so that it has enough battery power for the duration of the call.
Set up in a closed room for the interview. This will allow you to close the door, limiting access to curious animals (and children!).
Verbally advise others in your home not to interrupt you for the duration of the interview, and put a paper note on the door as a reminder until the interview is over.
Technical things to check before your video call
You should check some technical things before participating in a major video call, such as an interview, to ensure that everything runs smoothly from start to finish.
First, take the time to familiarize yourself with the software you are using (Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other) and test it before the interview. If possible, make a test call with a friend or colleague to check the sound and image and ask if there is any echo. If so, test again using headphones with a built-in mic or just a mic.
Next, make sure you have a solid Wi-Fi connection or, better yet, a wired connection if you're using a laptop or desktop computer. Did you know that using the microwave oven interferes with your Internet network? Imagine that!
Tips for looking good during a virtual interview
As soon as the call starts, ask the person you are talking to if the picture quality is good and if they can hear you well. Sometimes the camera is not automatically set to optimal picture quality, or your microphone is not set to a sufficient volume level.
Remember to look directly at the camera, to give the impression that you are really speaking to the person you are talking to – or to the audience, if the interview is being broadcast. As much as possible, avoid looking anywhere else in the room and don't stare at your notes.
Although it's instinctive for many of us, it can't be said enough: No one can ever be too dressed up!
Dress like you would if you were meeting in person. In today's virtual world, how you present yourself on screen can affect the perception of your brand, and therefore the experience you provide.
As a general rule, if you don't wear it in the office, you shouldn't wear it in a virtual interview. Opt for neutral colours as much as possible, as all-white or all-black clothing could give your camera a hard time.
Avoid clothing with patterns, garish colors or images or slogans that are too personal and explicit. Basically, you want the attention to be on your message, not your clothing.
Virtual interviews with the media
In order to respect social distancing measures, even the media choose to organize interviews via conference calls, which is a much safer option than having guests in the studio or even on the street.
Things to keep in mind during a video conference interview
Caring about every little detail of a virtual interview doesn't make you a pretentious person. On the contrary! – it shows you care about your professional reputation.
If you need someone to help you prepare for video conference interviews by providing practical and personalized advice, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Our team of experts will be happy to "see" and help you!