I've written about this before, but far too many people are still doing TV interviews wrong and aren't helping themselves during online meetings either.
Simple Isn't Always Easy
The biggest mistake people still make occurs when they look at themselves on their computer monitor and not at the camera light when they're interviewed.
How you look and what you say carry much more weight when you’re looking at the person you’re speaking to. When it’s a television interview, by looking at the camera, you’re looking at the audience you’re speaking to.
It’s a simple concept, but most people don’t get it. In fact, so many people work with multiple monitors today I’ve seen situations where the camera is part of one monitor, but they’re obviously looking at the other monitor. They may as well be in a different time zone.
Telling people to look at the camera when they speak and having them actually do it can be different things. So many times during virtual media training sessions, I remind the person I’m about to interview to make sure they’re looking into the camera, only to have them look at the monitor after saying just a few words.
It takes practice to do it right, but can pay off with big dividends. Focus on the camera light when you answer questions. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you'll get used to it.
TV stations should do better too. They should work with people to get them to look at the camera before interviews begin. If the person strays, then they should be reminded and the question should be asked again. Unfortunately, like everything in media these days, “good enough” rules the day.
Have an Old Shoebox?
I know from experience that looking into the camera as you speak isn’t a easy skill to master.
Here’s something that is though. Find a simple way to raise the camera on whatever device you’re using (Laptop, desktop etc) to your eye level.
It’s not hard. An old shoebox, or a few books are perfect to sit your laptop on. When the camera is at eye level you look so much better. That’s the way television has been done for decades.
Unfortunately, people set laptops on desks in front of them, plop their elbows on the desk and look down into the laptop, producing what I like to call the “nostril shot.” It’s not appealing. It normally includes everything from under your chin to the lights on the ceiling.
Please find a box, or something. Seriously.
One thing I will give most people being interviewed credit for is improved audio. When the pandemic started and virtual interviews started, the audio from many interviews was terrible.
It still could be better, but there’s been a definite improvement. Fewer people seem to be using the microphone built into their computer. More are using EarPods or headsets. I’m not a big fan of them, especially the headsets, but they do provide better audio quality.
I still prefer using an external microphone that can sit in front of you and not be seen, because you now have your laptop sitting on something to raise it.
See how these things go together?
Something else that has improved is lighting. People have realized they look better with improved lighting. Some are using too much light and getting washed out, but it’s been an improvement.
Now if we can get people to start looking at their camera and getting it at eye level, I’ll be able to stop yelling at my TV.