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  • Writer's pictureJoan Frank

The Zoom-Era Interview

At this point, it’s easier just to list the things that COVID-19 hasn’t changed rather than what it has. Everything is different these days, including the media interview.

While my clients used to go to a TV studio to speak face-to-face with a broadcaster, now they’re getting the word out via the Zoom interview. The principle is the same: a chance to share your story, or that of your company, in an engaging way that attracts attention and, hopefully, new customers and clients.

Here are a few tips to help you put your best foot forward in this new era of digital discourse:

1) Check out your background

When you’re in a TV studio, the lighting, furniture and backdrop are all taken care of by professionals who likely went to school to learn their trade. When it’s a Zoom interview, it’s all up to you. (Or your exceptional PR representative.) Do a few test runs using your phone camera to test the lighting at your desk, chair or wherever you are choosing to sit. Then spend a few minutes checking out the Room Rater Twitter account to see which celebrity interviewees are acing their backdrop set-ups. Pro tips: some carefully selected books, a tasteful family photo and fresh flowers go a long way toward creating a nice soothing background for your talk.

2) Splurge for that high-speed internet

Few things are as frustrating for a viewer as having a fascinating story marred by choppy video or audio. You know the situation: “The secret to earning a million dollars a year is…*dead air and frozen screen* …and it’s as easy as that.” Audiences lose their minds. So double check your internet connection and make sure the kids are downloading all the Lord of the Rings movies during your big moment.

3) Do not freak out

If you’re doing more than one Zoom interview, odds are something weird is going to happen. I think we all remember the BBC reporter whose toddler wandered into his home office with his frenzied wife in pursuit. While the reporter may have been mortified in that moment, the rest of the world was charmed. It’s the perfect lesson – sometimes those unexpected moments can help the world see you for who you are…and that can only help your business and image. So, play it cool and accept the bumps in the road with good grace and humor.

And don’t forget, a good PR representative will have your back. She’ll make sure you’ve prepared your answers, that you feel comfortable with your messaging and have clear points upon which to focus. Your job is just to get the message across with a smile…and maybe a cute picture of your dog in the background.

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