As many media interviews have transitioned from in-person or in-studio to zoom and virtual platforms, we created a special training for our clients for their virtual interviews. We’re sharing some of our top tips for handling zoom interviews (or meetings) like a pro so you can make the most of these unique opportunities.
Your Tech + Background Set-up
The first step to preparing for a virtual interview is picking a backdrop that is as intriguing yet as professional as possible.
For a thought leadership interview, a simple office backdrop is just fine, but keep in mind:
- Remove any clutter
- A plain white wall is preferred over seeing a bedroom or messy/distracting background
- Make sure you have great lighting. We recommend this inexpensive ring light to help boost the appearance of your zoom interviews.
- This is our recommended webcam for better HD-quality videos.
- This is our recommended microphone for Zoom and podcast interviews.
For demonstration or product-based interviews, it’s better to set up at a table and display your products or visuals. You can stand behind the table and present.
- This will likely require a separate webcam or microphone to pick-up your audio better
- Test this entire set-up by recording a test interview on zoom and playing it back to ensure there is good audio/video quality
Once you have your backdrop and audio/video tech set up, make sure your Zoom settings are ready ahead of time.
- Plan to join your zoom call 10 minutes in advance
- Test your microphone + audio in advance (zoom will offer this before you join a call)
- Under preferences and video settings:
- Turn on “enable HD” + “brush up appearance” setting (see images below)
Energy – Ultimately, the media wants engaging, interesting guests that will keep the attention of their audience. We pitch and book guests for an interview with the promise that you have something interesting to share and that you are, well, excited to be an on-air guest! You have to double or triple your natural energy level just to come across as “normal” on camera
Smile! Unless the interview is about a serious subject matter, you will want to smile as much as possible. This may feel a bit awkward, but it comes across as natural and will avoid a look of boredom or displeasure. When not talking, try to keep an engaged appearance with occasional head nods and smiles.
Clothing – Avoid busy patterns, tight horizontal stripes or distracting jewelry/accessories. This is another area to plan in advance; open your zoom or webcam and take screenshots of how you look in different outfits.
Find the formula that works best for you -this could be a simple tank/shirt + jacket combo, a sweater, branded shirt, etc. Once you know what colors & styles look best, stick to that formula to make future interview prep easy!
The best way to feel confident going into an interview is to practice it.
Most media segments are only a few minutes in length. It goes faster than you may expect (or longer, depending on how much you have to say), so make sure to keep the segment flowing by keeping your answers interesting yet concise.
Use your phone timer and make sure you have enough time to adequately demonstrate and/or talk about each of your main talking points. If you find yourself running out of time, you may want to adjust your talking points.
What if you run out of time or the host starts to wrap before you’re ready?
Make sure you have a closing line that you can jump to that tells the audience your call-to-action (what do you want them to do? Buy your book? Donate to the cause? Go to your website to learn more?) This usually looks like a quick recap of what they can do next and how to find you (your website).
Prepare for the Unexpected
Mistakes can happen and the interviewer may throw you a curve ball, say something random, or call you by the wrong name- be ready to go with the flow and follow your talking points! Just keep going.
You’ve prepared, you’ve done the work and the media is interviewing you for a reason! Your confidence will come across to the audience and help you to reach your PR goals- whether that is to increase credibility, brand recognition, or sales.
After you’ve had your interview, it’s always a great idea to send a follow-up email and thank the host/producer (if you work with HAPPY, your publicist does this part for you!) to keep building a strong relationship that will benefit your brand in the future.
Wondering how to land that interview opportunity in the first place? Check out our previous blog about how to get featured on TV.
Or, let us do the work for you – tell us about your brand to see if our services are a good fit!