In December 2019, the video conferencing platform Zoom had 10 million users. By mid-April, this number had grown to 300 million daily users, who were utilizing it to connect with colleagues, clients and partners while sheltering in place due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts also saw a surge in downloads in late March, demonstrating that people sought to connect with others even if they couldn’t have in-person conversations.
Video conferencing is arguably the next best thing to face-to-face meetings as it’s fairly easy to connect in this manner, even across great distances. If you’re in a marketing or leadership role, it’s likely that you’ll need to conduct a virtual media interview at some point. Understanding the do’s and don’ts of this type of interview can help you present yourself as an expert and your company in a good light.
The term “interview” typically induces stress and sweating. But it doesn’t have to! By reviewing recommendations and taking time to perfect your approach to interviewing, you can stay calm and collected during your next media appearance.
Consider the following best practices for a successful media interview using online video conferencing platforms:
Make sure to carefully select an area within your indoor environment that is optimal for a video interview. While not everyone has a home-office, you should be able to set up a makeshift desk at a normal height and avoid any distracting signage and pictures in the background. Consider the lighting as well so that you are properly backlit and that outdoor light is not washing out your face. Make sure all members of your household know not to interrupt the interview by walking in or creating background noise. And lastly, try to conduct your interview indoors, as wind, chirping birds and shifting lighting can negatively impact sound quality and be distracting.
Dress according to the situation for the virtual interview. For example, if you’re promoting a new fundraising initiative, you may want to wear the official t-shirt or polo for your organization or the campaign. This will feel more natural and give you an opportunity to showcase your dedication and enthusiasm. If you’re offering insightful information and tips to a television outlet, opt for more professional attire and avoid distracting stripes, patterns and colors that can be distracting. Overall, choosing the right attire helps make your interview more compelling and your voice more credible.
Just like with a phone interview or an in-person interview, you should stick to pre-planned messaging and rehearse at least once to boost confidence in your delivery when you’re under pressure to perform. Review your talking points and prepare for potential follow-up questions that may arise so that you’re not caught off guard. As video interviews are often recorded and featured on television or online, you’ll want to be succinct in your responses while still hitting on all the key messages. Practicing also helps you reduce the occurrence of fillers such as “um” and “ah” that can distract from your message and make you sound less credible and confident.
There are several ways you can express engagement during a video interview to make it seem more natural. You simply have to remember to use both body language and the right phrasing as you talk and listen to the interviewer. For instance, you can nod to show agreement and acknowledge you’ve understood a question. You can use facial expressions like smiling and raised eyebrows if the situation allows or shift to more refined expressions if the interview topic is more serious or somber. Consider using hand gestures when appropriate but try not to overuse, as these may be distracting to some viewers. Additionally, rely on transitional phrases to make your responses less robotic, like “thanks for that question,” and “that’s a great point, and I’d like to add…” This showcases that you’re listening to the interviewer.
Video interviews have become more popular during the pandemic, and they will continue to be an easy method for connecting individuals who are separated by distance. While it’s sometimes impossible to prevent connectivity issues and interruptions at your home or workspace, there are certain strategies that help ensure an effective video interview with the media. Whether you’re lending expertise regarding a topic of importance, responding to a crisis or launching a new product, service or initiative, it’s important to take time to prepare for a media interview from home so you feel comfortable, confident and ready to go live when the time comes. Being confident in your delivery will help listeners connect with you and better remember your message.
Make sure you know how to prepare for a virtual media interview and hit your talking points during the conversation. Contact us to discuss best practices for media relations and your brand.
Jess Messenger is an Account Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing PR campaign strategies and writing for B2B audiences across numerous verticals such as retail, foodservice and healthcare.