As broadcasters’ resources are stretched, ‘down-the-line’ TV interviews are increasingly common. Interviewees in one location talk to a camera, listening via an earpiece to the journalist who is questioning them from the studio.
The most difficult type of interview
Spokespeople often find these interviews unnerving. It is unnatural to be talking to a camera rather than a person. Unable to see the journalist, they cannot assess their reaction to answers and adapt accordingly as they speak. And while these interviews may take place inside or outside of your premises, if you are in a ‘down-the-line studio’, these are often tiny box rooms. There is a camera to stare at and a green baize screen behind you (onto which the broadcaster will project an image that audiences will see but you cannot) and nobody else. Surreal.
When doing a ‘down-the-line’ TV interview, 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. They can move as long as they don’t break into the shot too often and distract the viewer. Keep your bottom still and sit upright relaxing the upper body.
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.
If your ear piece falls out, don’t hold it close to your ear – just put it back in.
At the end, maintain your eye contact with the camera until you are told that the interview is over.
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