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Skype Media Interviews 101

By Mark Annick ©Androvett Legal Media & Marketing

Over the last several years, it has become increasingly common to look up and see someone on the TODAY show or CNN doing a live interview from the comfort of their desk or kitchen table, using nothing more than their computer's camera and Skype.

If you're someone who interacts with news media, the day may come when you are doing one of these. Here are a few suggestions for making the interview and your appearance on the broadcast more effective.

Cover the Basics

Remember that this is an interview like any other. So before we even get to the particulars of Skype, Google Chat or whatever tool the newsroom is using, remember all the things that make any interview a good one. That means you should:

  • Have some talking points ready
  • Consider the likely questions and plan some answers
  • Check your appearance before you go on the air
  • Be prepared to smile, gesture with your hands, raise an eyebrow – do anything to add energy to the screen

Get the Set Ready

Try to think like the producer or photographer who would be there shooting video if the computer weren't available.

If you're going to sit at your desk for the shot, ask yourself what the background looks like. If it's the window, you're going to have a problem because the light is behind you. If you can't move, or move the computer, then close the blinds or drapes and position a light (a desk lamp or standing lamp will do) so that it's lighting your face.

Try to think like the producer or photographer who would be there shooting video if the computer weren't available.

While you're at it, check for images in the background that may be distracting. Remove any prints or artwork that might draw attention, and for goodness sake, don't have a plant growing out of your head.

Check the Camera Angle; Reposition if Needed

If the camera is built into your computer screen, figure out if it's in the best position. Many of us look down at our computer screens, which means a camera that's part of it will be looking up at you. Generally speaking, the low-angle shot this produces is not flattering. So before the interview, check your appearance in the video window and decide if you need to raise the computer so that the camera is slightly above your eyes. You can do this by placing the computer on top of a few books.

Also – and this is really important – when you sit at your computer, it's quite natural to look at the computer screen. But in this case, you need to make sure you're looking directly into the camera, not the screen. If not, your on-air eye contact will suffer, which could harm your credibility.

Know where the camera is and remind yourself to keep your eyes there the whole time. You may even need to cover up the computer screen with a piece of paper to avoid the temptation of looking at yourself.

Sound Matters Too

Beyond your own voice, think about any other sounds that might interfere with the interview. Turn off phones and other potential noisemakers. Do the same with any email or other alerts that may come into your computer while you're being interviewed.

Practice, Practice, Practice

These kinds of interviews, in which you're just talking to a camera instead of a person in the room, can be very challenging. Take the time to practice in front of the mirror or by talking to the camera on your phone and then playing it back.

Then run a test at your computer by dialing up a friend or colleague on Skype. Does the lighting look good? What about the background? Would you look better if you moved closer to or farther from the camera? What about the audio – do you sound your best? All of these are questions to answer before you are on the air.

You're Always On

If you're doing a Skype interview live, you should behave as if you are always on the air. Even when the anchor is asking a question, you should be looking at the camera, not distracted by something else on your screen or in the room.

With a bit of extra thought and preparation, you and your surroundings can look professional and you can handle the interview with confidence.

 

Click here to download a printable PDF copy of "Skype Media Interviews 101."