Delivering Great Down-The-Line Media Interviews Over Skype During The Coronavirus Lockdown. Media Training

With travel and social distancing restrictions, face-to-face media interviews are a thing of the past. Instead, broadcasters want you to undertake them over Skype and FaceTime.

Most participants during our media training sessions find this form of interview the most difficult – it does not feel natural to stare at a camera lens and you cannot judge the reaction of the journalist to what you are saying.

Broadcasters are still desperate for comment and opinion from business and other organisations. So what advice are we giving during our online media training sessions for spokespeople at this time?

If you’re using a laptop or smartphone for the interview, get a family member to help you find the best angle, the best light and the best neutral background.

It’s been difficult to listen to some interviewees this past week when there have been so many diversions. Find a neutral background that doesn’t distract – don’t sit in your armchair or in front of family pictures, nor in your cramped home workplace between the radiator and the cupboard. Don’t make me think about your unusual taste in home furnishings and décor when you want me to be listening to you.

Beware gloomy lighting that gives you a sinister look (hint: have any light directed towards you just as you would when posing for a photograph, and don’t sit with a window behind you). Make sure that you sit in the centre of the camera shot.

Dressing casually when talking about matters of importance will impact on your credibility and authority. Gravitas doesn’t require a suit but being smartly presented will help.

And make sure others in your house do not interrupt sound or vision. Who can forget the academic being interviewed in 2017 about the political situation in North Korea last year with his child running around behind him?

Stand or sit still – anchor yourself. Do not rock, wobble from side to side or shift your weight from either foot. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and you only move from the waist up. If you are seated your lower body should stay still and your hands remain well below your shoulders. You can move your hands as long as they don’t break into the shot too often and distract the viewer.

Your eye line must be steady and constant with the camera lens. Position your eye line in the top third of the lens and lift your chin up slightly. Look directly through – ‘down-the-barrel’ – of the camera. If you feel you must look away, don’t look up or to the left or right. That makes you look nervous and uncertain. Look down – it suggests you are thinking.

To compensate the viewer for a lack of physical interaction between interviewer and interviewee, you will need to enhance the tone and intonation your delivery and the animation on your face. Your energy levels, passion and personality must shine through the lens.

At the end of the interview, maintain your eye contact with the camera until you are told that the interview is over. If you want to speak to one of our journalists in order to find out more about the media or want to enquire about booking a training session, please call us on +44 (0)20 7323 2770 or email team@electricairwaves.com.