Make Zoom interviews a breeze with these tipsBy Marjorie Comer
April 7, 2022
When the pandemic hit in 2020, a majority of TV interviews shifted to Zoom. The pandemic allowed TV stations and news producers to look at interviews in a new light. For a local station, the ability to conduct interviews on Zoom allows them to connect with experts in different areas without having to connect with an affiliate station to procure content for you. While you aren’t sitting face-to-face or knee-to-knee with an anchor, there are still tips and tricks you should utilize to make your Zoom interview a breeze.
Audio: Listen to this article.
Prior to your Zoom interview
It’s just as important to prepare for Zoom interviews as it is to prepare for in-person interviews. Keep these things in mind:
- Name: Log into Zoom, and make sure your name is displayed the way you want it – consider adding your pronouns after your name to ensure you and the interviewer are comfortable. As Zoom has gained popularity, people have changed their names on the platform to something personal like a nickname, and you may not want to show that name (your email address may also be your default name, and that may not be something you want to publicly share, either), so it’s important to double-check.
- Find a space: Pick a well lit room and face a window or use a ring light. Don’t face your back to a window or put any lamps behind you because this will backlight you, making your face hard to see.
- Device: A laptop works best (instead of a phone) for your video interview. If using a laptop, make sure you stack some books under it to make it eye level. If you need to use your cell phone, make sure you turn it horizontally and not vertically. Also, move away from the camera so you have enough space at the bottom for your name and chin, and make sure there isn’t too much headroom at the top.
- Background: Check what will be behind you in your shot. Some people may want family photos in the background, while others prefer to leave personal items out of the video. Do not blur your background or use a virtual backdrop. A blurred background can cause some ethical issues of pretending you are someplace you really aren’t or it can be a distraction than simply having the plain background because people are wondering what you are hiding in the background.
- Practice: Practice your key messages before your interview. Try to keep your talking points to small items that consumers can “digest” in small pieces and easily remember. Consider speaking in front of the mirror because it helps you see where you might be less confident (where you may say “um” and “uh”).
- Internet: Try to connect directly into your modem using an Ethernet cord or using a hard-wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi. You don’t want a delay to happen during your interview because of a poor internet connection. If you have a laptop without an Ethernet connection port, you can purchase an adapter to help you connect. Other options include moving closer to your router (not always an option if others are home or if your router is in your closet or other unique location) and ensuring others in the home or the office aren’t streaming videos while you are participating in a Zoom interview.
- Graphics: Share any event information, images, statistics, and any other material that could be used for an on-screen graphic.
Day of Zoom interview
- Clothing: Be sure to wear solid, bright colors. These show up best on camera. Consider researching your color type and dressing according to that. For example, I know light pinks, royal, and light blues wash me out, so I wouldn't choose to wear attire in those colors. You don’t want to appear sick on TV.
- Do not disturb: Set up a “Do not disturb” sign outside your space. If you are using a room, consider locking the door. You don’t want someone walking in on you mid-interview.
- Timing: Log into the Zoom link 15 minutes before your interview. If you are “on time,” then you are late. Sometimes, even if you’ve logged into Zoom the previous day or the day of, there’s an update available. Updates take time and can leave you feeling nervous about being online and ready in time for your call. Logging in early also allows you to sort through other technical difficulties like the sound not working, double-checking your name, fixing lighting, being on mute, or connecting with the producer or interviewer prior to going live.
- Talking points: Keep your talking points handy. Consider taping a notecard with your bullet points near the computer around eye level so you can glance at them if needed.
- Smile: Take a 3-by-5-inch index card and draw a smiley face on it, and tape this right above the camera on your computer. This will remind you to smile and helps you focus your eyes so it appears you are looking into the camera.
- Breathe: Before you go live, be sure to take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’ve got this!
With these tips, you can ace your Zoom interviews. If you still have concerns, be sure to check out our spokesperson training webinar to help you prepare for news interviews.
Clients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.
Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels
Topics: media relations, news release, earned media
Comment on This Article