How to do a TV news interview from home

30 August 2021  |  Insights
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Get ready for your news interview (image: Pixabay)

A few years ago I was asked to be a contributor on Sky News. I was commenting on a story I had been involved with and to be honest I was a little nervous. I had my laptop and Skype ready to receive the call from home - but let’s just say it could have gone better...

I learned a few things from that experience which I hope can help others should you be invited to be a guest on a news programme from home.

The coronavirus pandemic restrictions have made it harder for news producers to get live guests in the studio. By necessity more interviews are being carried out from people’s homes, using platforms such as Zoom.

We have become accustomed to this, and the lower quality images and sound that come with it. But, in order to communicate your message or story, it’s still important to do what you can to look good, sound good, and present well.

If you know you’re likely to be a guest on a news programme then there’s no reason you can’t prepare a few things in advance.

You get the call. The producer wants to set up an interview with you. Your heart may be racing a little. But if you have done the following things then you’re less likely to be flustered and to panic.

‘Do not disturb’

Choose a location where you are unlikely to be disturbed by family members, house mates, or animals. Yes, there is an element of grace afforded you if your children walk in mid-interview (as happened in this famous BBC News example). But if this is one of your biggest opportunities to share what you have to say with a large audience, then it’s best to do all you can for it not to be disrupted.

It’s a good idea to ask those you live with to avoid playing loud music or having the TV on nearby, but be prepared to encounter some noise distractions. If it happens, don’t stop talking during an interview. Only stop if the presenter or producer asks you to stop. In most cases, with the right microphone set-up you should be able to push through without affecting the audience’s understanding of what you’re talking about.

Sounding good

Good, clean sound (or audio) is very important. In fact viewers will more likely put up with low quality video if the audio is good, but they will never tolerate bad audio even if the video quality is stunning.

How do you avoid bad audio? Usually this is achieved with a microphone (separate to your camera) which will pick up good, clean audio (either plugged into your camera or sometimes recorded separately).

A popular solution is to use headphones which have a mic attached to the cable. Or you could use a headset, although you may come across more warm and welcoming by not having a device attached to your head. Not a dealbreaker. If you don’t have an external microphone, then position yourself no more than one metre from the laptop (and its mic) that you’re using.

Testing, testing

One of the stumbling blocks I had with my Sky News interview was that I didn’t have my laptop and headphones working together properly. In short, when I tried to use my headphone mic as we were setting up, the producer couldn’t hear me. I got flustered and couldn’t think what to do.

Thankfully a tech engineer at the studio guided me over the phone on how to fix the problem.

A better solution would have been for me to have tested the headphones’ mic and laptop together before the call to check it was all working fine. A stitch in time saves nine...

In the next blog post in this series we’ll look at the visual side of your interview - how you can look your best on screen.

And if you would like further help with your video interviews, Jersey Road PR can provide media training for your charity or church. Get in touch with us.

Written by Andrew Horton, Head of Content, Jersey Road PR.

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