By Scott Lorenz
Ever notice how some people look great on a Zoom call? What’s their secret? In today’s era of COVID-19, media interviews that were once conducted in a TV studio are now performed on Zoom, Skype, or Facetime. This presents more opportunities for interviews because you don’t have to go to a studio but there are challenges as well. Are you ready for your up-close TV interview on ZOOM?
My personal Zoom experiences and discussions with several experts in this visual field have allowed me to come up with a quick list of tips to help you crush your next Zoom call. Without further ado, here they are:
You don’t have to dress up as much as you usually do. However, your attire should not be down more than one level from what you typically wear in the office. If you normally wear a suit and tie, for example, opt for a nice blouse or button-up shirt.
Jess Todtfeld, former producer and media trainer also recommends you avoid white, black, and red, ensure your clothing is wrinkle-free, remove distracting jewelry, and dress as simply as possible. “TV viewers should focus on your face and what you say, not your clothes,” he says.
You are the face of your company, your school, your brand. If you normally wear makeup to work, then you’ll need to wear it on a TV interview too.
Invest in Reliable Internet Connection
Chances are you’ve seen someone freeze on the screen during a Zoom session. To reduce the risk of this happening to you, a reliable internet connection is a must. If you’re in the middle of an interview and your connection freezes, a TV station will stop the interview and go to someone else. A hardline wired connection to your computer vs. WIFI can prevent this issue. In the event you must use WIFI, request that others in your home or office stay off it during your interview.
Be Mindful of Your Background
Your background during a Zoom call is important. Do your best to make it visually appealing. Add fresh flowers, a potted plant, a painting, or your book cover enlarged on an easel. Remember that people will be able to read book titles so there’s a good chance they’ll notice dust, dirty clothes, and other imperfections in the background. Don’t sit in front of horizontal blinds as this confuses the camera and may cause pixelation of the image. (Vertical blinds are ok) Refrain from virtual backgrounds that come with ZOOM as they create distortion around your head and body. If you must use one due to a home office in a bedroom or hallway, then buy a portable green screen so you can choose a beautiful virtual background that’s free from distortions. You’ll look professional and feel good too.
Do you have a ZOOM Room?
TV and radio studios have acoustically padded walls, ceilings and are carpeted. The sound is absorbed and is not ricocheting around giving that ‘hollow’ effect. If your ZOOM Room is like a racquetball court then you need a new location or to figure out how to deaden the sound bounce with carpet, acoustic tiles, etc. Wearing a lapel microphone helps too. This should be needless say but, keep dogs, kids, and the neighbor’s lawnmower out of sound range.
Pay Attention to the Lighting
It’s essential that your face is well lit throughout the entire interview. If you’re in a dark room, use a circle light or lamp with a warm glow. Ideally, you’d be in a bright room with minimal windows. Excessive light may cause the camera lens to adjust when you don’t want it to. The cost is $50-100. I love mine and it’s really helpful on dark dreary days, late night or early morning interviews or when your spouse may need the living room light for reading!
Ensure the Camera is at ‘just a smidge below’ Eye Level
The camera should always be ‘just a smidge below’ eye level with you. Try your best to look at the camera instead of the screen at all times. Don’t let your eyes wander as this may cause others to believe you’re disinterested or disengaged in the interview. Put a little post-it notes near the camera lens on your camera to remind you to ‘look at the camera’ not the screen.
If you are using the camera on an iPhone or other smartphone, place it on a tripod and be sure to turn off the notifications and the ringer or everyone on the call will hear them.
Use the Skype App
For best results when using SKYPE use the SKYPE App and not your browser. The reality is that the browser accessed version won’t run at optimal speeds and there’s a good chance your screen may freeze. Download the app on your phone or tablet and test it out in advance to make sure it works well.
Opt for Wireless or Wired Earbuds
Speakers on your computer are ok. But, if you want best results, get wireless or wired earbuds. They can enhance your sound quality and help you sound great on camera. If you use wireless earbuds, don’t forget to charge them completely before the interview.
Have a Glass of Water Handy
You can enjoy a number of benefits if you keep a glass of water by your side during your interview. Since talking a lot and being nervous can lead to dry mouth and throat, water can help you keep your vocal cords moist. It can also serve as a prop so if you’re asked a tricky question, you can take a sip of the water and give yourself some extra time to think of a good answer.
Don’t Forget Pen and Paper
With a pen and paper nearby, you’ll be able to jot down the reporter’s name, questions you may have, and anything that you’d like to remember after the interview. If you take notes on your computer, you’ll distract the interviewer so doing so the old-fashioned way is ideal.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Make sure you know how to work ZOOM, SKYPE, and Facetime and are comfortable with all of the options. Practice using all of these with friends and family. Don’t let your big interview on national TV be a flop because of some technical issue you could have avoided.
The Bottom Line: By following these tips, you can nail your virtual Zoom interview and meet your goals from the comfort of your own home or office.
About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz
Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.
Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.WestwindBookMarketing.com or contact Lorenz at [email protected] or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new award winning, bestselling book: Book Title Generator- A Proven System in Naming Your Book www.BookTitleGenerator.net.
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Good tips, and some I’ve never heard before. Must share this with my writer friends. Practicing in a mirror to see how you will look to others on Zoom or Facetime could be another tip? Also, if you use a big microphone, put a pop screen in front of it, so your P’s and B’s won’t make a popping sound when you talk or narrate.