With the advances in technology, internet speed is increasing and people are becoming more tech savvy. Even media houses can now have spokespeople available for interviews on relatively short notice. Trying to find a suitable spokesperson close to a local news studio is also no longer a major concern and professional body organisations can use this to their advantage, especially when there are limited experts available on a specific topic.
With this opportunity comes certain risks so it is imperative to ensure you follow the following tips we provide our clients to ensure your interview is professional and of the highest quality possible through remote video streaming.
Create a backdrop
Make sure that where ever you are, you clean up the background and remove any type of eye-catching items that will distract viewers. This can include pictures, a trashcan that needs throwing out or even the fan. Optimise your lighting and place a light behind the camera - behind you will put you in shadow and to the side will create distracting shadows. You could consider a backdrop of the organisation you are representing but check this first with your PR professional and also with the media house.
Whether you are in your home office or in a hotel, make sure you notify the people in your direct area not to disturb you. Switch your phone to silent, take the landline off the hook and close windows and doors. Even a dog barking outside or cars going past can create an unpleasant distraction - not to mention a child running into the room or a vacuum being run in the background! Also remember to turn off any desktop notifications on your laptop and close all the programs in the background.
Plan your outfit
Same as with regular in-studio interviews, choose a professional outside that does not have any checkered, stripe or dot prints. Navy and black works best. Make sure you don't wear the same color as your background and if possible, remove your glasses if they create a glare with the lighting in the room.
Plan your message
This tip is key to any interview, regardless of whether your interview is in-studio, live or pre-recorded. Make sure you know what message you want to bring across and how you want to position your organisation.
Practice, practice, practice
Don't wait for the producer to see what you look like on screen and whether anything needs to be moved in the background. Ask your PR professional or a colleague to practice beforehand so by the time you connect with the producer, you come across as well prepared and professional.
Look at the camera
People sometimes make the mistake of looking at the screen and this leaves viewers with a disconnect. To truly connect with the interviewer and the viewers, look straight at the camera. You can even use a bright sticker to draw your eye to the camera. Place your laptop on a stack of books to make sure it's eye-level. Remember, this one major area that makes a Skype interview different than an in-studio interview. With an in-studio interview you need to be looking at the host, NOT the camera. Don't confuse the two!
Check your sound
You can use white or black ear buds but make sure the sound quality is good. Again, practice ahead of time. If you tend to do quite a lot of travelling and frequently find yourself in a position where you need to conduct Skype interviews, consider purchasing a professional clip on microphone. You can hide the cable in your shirt and it will transmit a clearer audio to the studio. Also remember, you can speak in a normal voice and at a normal sound level - no need to shout!
Check your internet connection
Well, this one is actually the most important tip! Run a test to make sure your connection speed is good. Skype recommends using an Ethernet cable and physically connecting to your router is best, followed by power-line communications, Wi-Fi and mobile data networks—in that order. Remember, it’s not only about the speed of the connection, the stability is also important to a good quality call. Also consider who is using the connection with you and if possible minimise these users during your interview.
Have an IT expert on hand
When dealing with technology, it is always a good idea to have the IT guy close by. Also get the direct contact details of the producer in case your connection fails.
Have a back-up plan
Provide the producer with a high quality photograph before hand so that if the video call fails, you can still be available for a telephonic interview. It is not the ideal situation but better than a lost connection and no way to recover.
In the end, conducting a Skype interview has much of the same tips as being interviewed in-studio. The biggest difference is the preparation you need to make in advance - but at the same time you have the benefit of being in a familiar environment and this can actually help you if you are a little nervous. So focus on the things you can control and bringing across your key message and your interview will be a success!