By Roz Morris, Managing Director, TV News London Ltd
It’s a brave new world of TV interviews as the current Covid-19 precautions are keeping most of us working at home. We are now, as one BBC presenter recently put it, seeing an awful lot of other people’s bookcases.
Instead of people being interviewed in TV studios face to face with broadcasters, or down the line talking directly to a studio camera, everyone is being interviewed from the comfort of their own home. And this has revealed it really isn’t that easy to look professional when you have to set up the system yourself.
The media are currently desperate for new angles on the Covid-19 crisis. How ready are you to give interviews that look and sound professional?
Have you ever seen so many badly lit people? Being near a window is only a good idea, if you get it right. You don’t want to end up, as so many people do, with your face either half or entirely in shadow.
Then there’s the framing. Are you sitting up straight? Not too low down so there’s acres of space above your head, nor too close to the camera so your audience is put off by your strangely large head. Are you using a laptop at the wrong angle and achieving the up- the- nostrils style of shot? Also off-putting to the audience.
How fussy is your background? Some bookcases are more dominant than others with book titles that we try to read, instead of listening to what the interviewee is saying. I’ve found I can’t help noticing that Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has a small banner on the bookcase behind him saying in capital letters just behind his right ear: WE’RE VOTING FOR GRANT.
Does all this matter? Yes, because, while our brains are decoding all this irrelevant information, we’re not listening to what people are saying.
Why are there all these problems? It’s very simple. When you go into a studio to be interviewed, the broadcasters have to worry about the lighting, sound, framing, studio setting etc.. Now that interviews are being done from your home, you have to take on the director’s role and work out how to get the best shot. That’s in addition to looking smart and professional and remembering to get your messages across in a positive and confident way.
This is all a very big deal and it’s asking a great deal of people to master all these technical issues. So, if you feel you need some professional help with your now essential online look, both for meetings and for interviews, contact me at TV News London Ltd.
We’re a leading and long-established media training company. We’re here to help.