A video news interview from home (image: Joshua Mayo/Unsplash)
It’s part of living in the ‘new normal’ that we are more accepting of the lower quality images and sound that comes with TV news interviews. But, what happens when a call comes in from a producer wanting to set up an interview with you?
In the previous blog of this series, we looked at how to get your audio right for a TV news interview from home. Next we’re concentrating on how to look your best for this all-important opportunity to share your story or your expertise.
Before the interview begins, the news producer will most probably tell you if they want you to change anything about your set up. But to get a good head start, try to follow these pointers:
To avoid the viewers looking up your nose, try to position the laptop camera at eye level. If you need to stick it on an ironing board or on top of several hefty books, then do it. Keeping at eye level also makes you come across in a more relational way to your audience – as opposed to looking down at them, or… see my first example.
Next, you want to make sure your face is correctly positioned on the screen (also called the frame). Ideally you want your eyes to be in line with the top third of the frame. This is a standard TV and video making convention, and looks most pleasing. Try not to look like you’re disappearing off the bottom of the screen, but also don’t position your eyes right in the middle or cut the top of your head off, if you know what I mean.
[insert framing rule of thirds image]
Your laptop camera will probably work best with as much light as it can have, so turn your room lights on for the interview, but beware of opening the curtains or blinds on a very sunny day as this can give the camera too much light and leave you over-exposed.
Don’t position yourself with a window directly behind you or you run the risk of ending up in silhouette, with your face hard to see in contrast with the bright, washed out window behind you.
Avoid clothing with tightly chequered or thin striped patterns as this can do funny things to your camera lens and make you look a bit strange. And some producers request that you don’t wear bright green clothes as they can play havoc with any graphic overlays – although this is most acute when you’re in an actual TV studio.
I know we’ve all tried to see what books some academic has on their shelves, but if possible, don’t have any unusual object, picture on the wall, or even a person distracting viewers in your background. However, it is good to leave some space between you and your background surroundings, as this creates a sense of perspective and depth. So, if possible, don’t sit with your back tight against a wall.
Don’t use a blur filter or any other sort of wacky superimposed background for your interview. For one, they never work totally effectively, so half of you may disappear suddenly, which doesn’t look very professional. Secondly they can be distracting for viewers, and thirdly they may diminish a sense of trust in you as viewers will wonder what you’re trying to hide.
So to recap: the producer will most likely tell you before the interview starts if anything can be improved about your appearance. Don’t take it personally. They’ve done this hundreds of times before – even more so during the pandemic.
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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