As newsrooms continue to navigate the lasting impact of the pandemic, virtual broadcast interviews remain critical in delivering news to audiences. Spokespersons can prepare for a successful virtual broadcast interview by adhering to these five simple preparation strategies:
1. Maximize existing relationships and experience to build a broadcast portfolio
Spokespersons familiar with the hustle and bustle of newsrooms should maintain an updated portfolio of their work. With the help of public relations professionals, share updated news and views with producers that you’ve worked with in the past. To connect with new broadcast opportunities, a portfolio that includes clips of past successful virtual broadcast appearances could entice producers looking for talent.
2. Outline talking points in advance to deliver key messages
Ahead of a scheduled virtual broadcast appearance, map out the key messages you intend to deliver and workshop them with producers. This way, the interviewer will be prepared to keep a conversational tone, and there will be fewer surprises at airtime! Spokespersons should coordinate with their communications team or public relations agency to make sure these talking points are differentiated and connect to the overall branding of the company.
3. Prepare the interview setting and technology
Without the lighting, makeup and set teams that ensure spokespersons look their best in the newsroom, extra work goes into setting the scene ahead of a virtual broadcast appearance.
- Check the Wi-Fi connection ahead of the interview, as well as the video and sound functions of the platform facilitating the interview (Skype, Zoom, etc.). It is better to use an ethernet connection or private Wi-Fi, and to avoid using a hotspot from your phone. Set up the computer and webcam in a place with no outside noise and a background that doesn’t distract the audience.
- Producers have shared that dynamic backgrounds, like bookshelves and subtle artwork, can be a nice addition to a broadcast appearance, so long as it’s not cluttered. Alternatively, rooms where the background is a blank wall, with a steady light source are ideal.
- When natural light is not enough, use home lighting—including a ring light if available— to ensure quality visuals. Producers note that overhead lighting can wash out their broadcast guests, so spokespersons should avoid it.
- Set the camera up to focus on your face, and place it at a flattering angle so that you can see only your head and shoulders with about a hands-width of room between the top of your head and the frame.
- Finally, wear something professional that coordinates well with the background. Solid, muted tops work well with a dynamic background, and bright colors work well against a blank wall. Always wear professional bottoms, even when the camera frame is only from the shoulders up.
4. Conveying confidence in at-home, virtual broadcast interviews
Use a colorful piece of tape to mark where the camera is, so you always know where to direct your gaze. It can be odd to speak without an audience, so practice both talking points and facial expressions ahead of the interview. Further, avoid looking down at notes in front of you, or away from the camera when the host is asking the question. Keep looking into the camera and maintain a professional pose for 10—15 seconds after the interview ends. It’s better to be completely sure you are off-air.
Remember to smile and consider how body language comes across on camera. Sit up straight but with a relaxed posture. While you want to avoid looking too stiff, try not to fidget and limit hand motions that may come across as awkward in the camera frame. Common habits are twisting hands together, picking nails, rocking, or swinging back and forth on a swivel chair.
At the outset of the interview, spokespersons should thank the host or interviewer for having them on the show before diving into any talking points. Speak slowly with a consistent cadence, making sure audiences can clearly understand. Vary your tone, so that you won’t sound monotonal—smiling can help with that, depending on the subject matter, as it inflects a natural brightness into your voice.
5. Follow up after the virtual broadcast interview airs
With the help of PR professionals, stay in touch with producers once the interview airs. Producers will often send clips of your interview to use in your portfolio and schedule future appearances. Share the result with key internal stakeholders to maximize media results with complementary marketing and social media strategies. Spokespersons can even include a link to their appearance on their personal social media and follow the outlet that had them on as a guest. This ensures the growth of their personal brands as thought leaders.