If you were meeting a reporter in person for a media interview, you would be dressed in appropriate business attire.
You can also have a face-to-face interview with a reporter using Skype, the free video calling service that enables individuals in two different locations to have a conversation on their computers. No need to leave your office – which may be in your home, as more executives work virtually.
You still need to act and look your best on Skype. If you’re calling from home, dress as if you were meeting a client, not going to a pajama party.
Close the door to your office and tack a sign on the outside letting everyone know that a meeting is in progress. You don’t want traffic traipsing in and out.
Get someone to take your dog for a walk so there is no barking in the background. Turn off your phone and clean up the area around your computer. Make sure you have a neat backdrop. You don’t want the reporter’s takeaway to be “Gee, what a sloppy person.”
The WebAround webcam background offers the most economical professional background we’ve found for around $30 on-sale to $65. It is portable and sits on the back of your chair and comes in very practical blue, green or grey backgrounds varying from 42 to 56 inches in diameter open.
Do the same preparation as you would when you appear on television:
- Dress professionally
- Be clean shaven (unless you ordinarily have a beard or mustache)
- Wear reflection-free glasses, if you have a pair
- Adjust the lighting in the room so your face is clearly visible
- Apply makeup as usual and dust your face lightly with powder to reduce the shine from the lights
- Make eye contact with the reporter by looking directly into the camera as you’re talking
Use a prop if it will help clarify your thoughts. But remember that Skype isn’t the medium to do a product demonstration that requires a lot of setup and space.
As with any media interview, be sure you’ve practiced your key messages. Have an opening “grabber” and summarize your major points before signing off.
There is one crucial difference in using Skype as opposed to the phone or a personal interview. There is a delay in the sound that is traveling via satellite. You’ve no doubt watched a TV reporter on assignment in the Middle East being interviewed by a broadcast anchor in New York. The sound follows the questions and answers. The delay is quite noticeable. So it is with Skype.
You can’t talk a mile a minute. Build in pauses. Slow down by at least 30 percent, or you will come across like you’re talking in an echo chamber. Remember how your mother told you to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly? The same applies to Skype. Speak slowly and form your words carefully.
Avoid a Disaster
Before the interview, test the equipment to ensure it is working properly. Schedule a dry run with a colleague who can tell you how you look and sound. Your set-up could crash and reporters don’t have the time and patience to wait for it to be fixed.
You can use the camera that is built into your computer, or mount a higher-resolution camera on top of your monitor.
Adjust the angle of the camera so it isn’t zooming in on your navel or the ceiling. Enable the reporter to see your facial expressions, but make sure she’s not seeing a close-up of your tonsils!
Have you used Skype? Did you have any technical issues? Please share your experiences with our readers in the comment box below.
- Skype: 5 Social Tips for Professionals (socialnomicswithsuzanne.wordpress.com)
- Do You Stand for a Phone Interview With a Reporter? (presenting-yourself.com)