Today we are going to talk about doing interviews remotely from our home or office.

Remote interviews are the norm for TV news today

In the past, TV stations usually had guests come into the studio and conduct an interview live or recorded, but in person. The only major exception to that was a station wanting to interview someone in another market, especially if they needed a quote or full interview quickly.

But even in big markets, the stations liked to have guests in person. I live and work in Charleston, South Carolina, but I have done TV interviews on stations in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. I had to travel to those cities for the interviews.

But COVID-19 changed that completely. Now almost all interviews are done remotely, even national network channels and stations in major markets. Often, the station leadership decided to only allow their talent – the hosts and maybe the reporters and the producers and cameramen and women – into the studio.

Maybe the situation will go back to normal after the pandemic ends, but it very well might not. Remote interviews are easier for the studios in some ways, and maybe cheaper for the rare stations which pay for travel. Other than some technical issues that come up sometimes, doing an interview with an expert on Zoom or Skype is fairly easy for news shows.

We will talk about the technical side of remote interviews, especially equipment you need, in a future episode of the show. But today, let’s talk about setting the scene for your interview.

Mistakes experts make with scenes and backgrounds in Zoom or Skype interviews

To me, even discussing this is a little surprising. I would think people would automatically consider their background and try to make it look as good as possible. But after watching remote interviews on news and sports channels during the COVID-19 times, it’s obvious that very few experts think about it at all.

And here is why it matters.

If your background is distracting for the viewer, they will focus on that and miss what you’re saying. If your ultimate goal is to get more customers, clients or patients, and to help people in general, you want them focused on you and the message you are sharing.

But here are just some of the awful backgrounds I’ve seen in the media over the last year:

  • A plain white wall
  • Nothing on the wall or walls behind them
  • Lights behind the expert
  • A messy, disorganized office
  • Scene is too dark
  • Items in the background that might raise flags
  • Clocks
  • Something in the background that is flashing, shining, or moving
  • A green screen

How to create a great scene or background for a remote interview

You want a background that looks professional and positions you as an expert. But you also want to show a little bit of personality. So here are some ideas. Different people will prefer different looks, and that’s completely fine. Test different ideas out and see what you like best. Even have a Zoom or Skype call with a friend or colleague and have them give you feedback based on what they see.

Here are some ideas to consider for your background:

  • No open or uncovered windows in the shot
  • No lights in the background or overhead in the scene
  • Put one or two lights behind the camera or webcam pointing at you.
  • Get rid of all clutter.
  • Use non-white walls, but avoid walls that are too dark
  • One or a few things that add color, such as a nice painting
  • Diplomas or awards on the wall in the background can show expertise for some people.
  • Items that represent what you do might be appropriate
  • A bookshelf with books on it
  • A vase with flowers or a plant

Plus, you need to consider the positioning of your camera and computer.

The ideal camera position for a remote TV interview

Whether you’re using an external webcam attached to the top of your desktop or laptop, or a DLSR that feeds into your computer (which is the better way to go once you start doing a lot of remote interviews), please make sure that it is positioned at eye level.

So many experts clearly use laptop computers and webcams for these interviews. But they put the laptop on the desk, much lower than their head is.

On TV, you see the expert looking down, and the viewer sees the ceiling and lights or ceiling fan in the background.

With a desktop computer, it might naturally be fairly close in height to your face. But with a laptop especially, you might need to place it on several books or a box.

As I said earlier, once you have a background that you think best represents you, do a Zoom or Skype call with someone and get feedback on how it looks to them. And take a screenshot so that you can look for any items that will draw attention, like the tequila bottle on the kitchen counter I saw.

Now please remember, that just like my website, my coaching and everywhere else, that I am not giving business, financial, legal, medical or any other kind of advice here. Talk to a professional for advice specific to your situation.

If you want to learn more…if you want more customers, more clients, more patients, you want to make more money, you want to be recognized as THE expert in your industry, or you even want people you don’t even know to come up to you at the gym or in the grocery store, thanking you for helping them, I can help you become a Media PRO.

Sign up for a FREE 30-minute media strategy session with me. We will see where you are and what you’re trying to achieve in your business, and then plan some strategies for you to get more media interviews and appearances to achieve all those goals and far more.

Get my FREE eBook – The Media PROS Interview Checklist, offering you a handy reference full of tips to shine in your next media interview or appearance so they keep asking you back, over and over.