5 Ways To Prepare for A Zoom Interview
written by Julie Parise
Congratulations! You’ve landed a television interview — and you don’t even have to leave your house for it. Now, how do you prepare for Zoom interviews on TV?
If there is one thing you learn from this blog post, make it this: It is your responsibility to make this interview look and sound good.
The producer or reporter interviewing you will likely offer some guidance on the setup, but you want to make their job as easy as possible. This will help you to get asked back on the program — or could even entice other stations to reach out to you for interviews.
You want to show you can be a reliable, high-quality guest. The content of your interview won’t matter at all if the people watching it are distracted by a messy house, poor Internet connection, or a fake virtual background.
Which leads me to our first tip…
Don’t use a virtual background or green screen
Just don’t do it. If you think that the cheesy background provided by Zoom or other web conferencing platforms will make you look professional, you’re wrong. You want to showcase authenticity. This means the obviously fake background is a far worse choice than a neat, organized personal space. The virtual landscapes or branded backdrops not only distract from you, but also from your message and your credibility.
At Guide My Brand, we work with clients to help them perfect their setup and equipment choices to make them look their best so you won’t want to touch those fake backdrops again.
Do organize/tidy your space
Don’t worry. Getting your home office “camera ready” isn’t hard. First, avoid doing the interview from a bedroom or anywhere that looks too cozy. But a kitchen, living room or dining room can work well — just make sure the area is clean and organized. Fold any blankets on couches, remove any clutter or piles of paper, etc.
Also, don’t be afraid to show a bit of personality. One or two pieces of artwork can make a nice statement, or even a family photo. A plain white wall may feel like a safe choice, but it sets a boring tone. Again, you want your backdrop to look appealing without being distracting.
Do double-check your lighting.
You want to make sure your best light source is in front of you, not behind you. Set up your laptop or camera facing the window that will receive the most sunlight during your scheduled call. Natural light is the best way to light your shot. If you don’t have great options for natural light, invest in affordable ring light (they’re easy to find on Amazon!) so that your shot is at the right brightness level.
Don’t rely on slow Internet
You’ll likely be given some grace by producers and viewers if your Internet connection isn’t perfect. After all, you are in your home. But you want your shot to look as high quality as possible. Try not to rely on a wireless connection. If you can connect to an ethernet cable connection instead, that’s the best way to guarantee a smooth interview.
If you must be on wireless, that’s fine — but make sure no one else in your home is using a ton of bandwidth (streaming shows or video games, etc) while your interview is happening. The last thing you want to happen is for your connection to freeze or worse yet, disconnect.
Practice your presentation
The ease of Zoom or webcam interviews is wonderful. Plus, without having to sit on set underneath the studio lights, you’re likely to feel far less pressure. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice being a good guest. There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your interview looks and sounds wonderful:
– Look directly at the webcam when you speak. On Zoom or Skype, it’s often tempting to look at the little box with your picture in it, or at the person who is asking your questions. Try not to do that. The best way to simulate “eye contact” is to look directly at the webcam. This doesn’t feel too natural, so I’ve often suggested to clients they put a little post-it note (or even a picture of your spouse/friend/parent) right underneath the camera as a reminder.
– Don’t try to read off a teleprompter or a script. Instead, memorize 3 key points you want to get across during the interview. Relying on notes or a script is very obvious when you are doing a Zoom interview.
– Use gestures and mannerisms that you would typically use in person. The best interviews are conversational. Speak authentically, the way you would with friends and family. This means, if you normally talk with your hands — talk with your hands. Even if you can’t see them on camera, this will help you to look and feel like yourself.
– Speak loudly to show confidence and authority. Feeling nervous? That’s normal. Studies show that a “fake it til you make it” mentality helps create confidence. So, raise your voice a bit to sound and feel more confident. You don’t have to yell, but just talk a little but louder than you normally would.
– Close out other apps/websites to limit distractions. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Close out those other tabs so you don’t get distracted by incoming messages — or worse, have other sites send noisy notifications while you’re interview is happening.
– For practice, record yourself and watch yourself back. I know, I know. Most people really don’t like watching themselves back on camera. But you have to do it. Trust me, it will help you to see what you’re great at, and what needs some work. But remember – we are typically our own worst critic, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Want to learn more about landing television appearances? Check out our course, which includes examples of pitches that have secured TV interviews for our clients!