Though the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly prompted many changes in the way we communicate and conduct book publicity campaigns, virtual media interviews were happening long before stay-at-home orders forced TV studios to adapt. Replacing the old studio remote interview, we increasingly saw foreign news correspondents reporting via Skype, and it wasn’t uncommon for authors and experts to be interviewed via video-conferencing platforms. It’s easy to see why: travel costs eliminated, studio expenses reduced, and convenience for everyone involved.
So for both now, as travel bans and restrictions rule the day, and for the future as video interviews likely become commonplace, it’s crucial for authors, experts and thought-leaders to understand how to be the best guest possible during a virtual media interview. A great virtual interview can propel a book marketing campaign to new levels of success, as you’ll be able to show other shows how good you are “on air.”
Here are some key tips to be the best virtual guest:
- Maximize audio quality. Headsets or earphones with a microphone always produce better audio quality.
- Keep your computer [and other electronic devices] quiet! Make sure to enable “do not disturb” on your computer so the dings and pings of email and other notifications aren’t heard. Close all other computer applications so that the videoconferencing platform is the only one running. And don’t forget to silence your phone, Apple watch and other personal electronics.
- Familiarize yourself with the media’s preferred videoconferencing app. Skype and Zoom may be two of the most popular video platforms but they are not the only ones media are relying on. Download the media’s preferred videoconference service as soon as you have your interview details and be sure to familiarize yourself with the platform’s capabilities, test the audio and video, and hold a test call prior to sitting down for your interview.
- Your webcam is your only focus. It’s tempting to look at yourself or other things on your screen during an interview. Don’t! Focus your eyes only on your webcam. Looking away from it is akin to being on TV and not looking at the host.
- Stay plugged in. Don’t do interviews with your laptop or tablet running on battery; it’s just not worth the risk of disappearing during an interview because your battery dies, or having to fumble to plug in your computer while being interviewed.
- Stay in front of the lights. Simple rule: Lighting directed toward you is good, lights or windows behind you are not.
- Silence! Make no mistake, absolute silence in your home during an interview is essential. There should be not talking, pet sounds, TVs or noisy appliances in the background. If you have young children, be sure to have another adult entertaining them during the interview… preferably outside!
- Own the Internet. Virtual media interviews require consistent, strong Internet connections. When being interviewed, tell everyone else in your home to get offline completely! They should not just be off heavy streaming platforms like Netflix or online games, but off of everything to ensure you have the best possible connection.
- Don’t cut your head off. Keep your webcam at eye level. You don’t want your camera pointed up so you look like you’re looking down, or pointed too low so you lose your forehead. You want to be as centered as possible with as little space between as possible between the of your head and the top of the screen.
- Be wary of the “hot mic.” As soon as the show you’re appearing on begins, pay attention and be ready to be interviewed. Don’t talk, brush your hair or do anything else. “Live times” can be fluid on programs, and you could be on camera before you know it.