This tip is very, very simple, but you’d be stunned how many experts screw this up when doing an on-camera interview. We’re talking about where to look.
If you are doing an interview, maybe at your business or somewhere else, and the reporter is going to use a quote from you for a story she is producing, she will tell you exactly where to look.
Almost always, you will be looking at her, off to the side of the cameraman, and not directly at the camera.
Most experts do fine here.
The bigger problem with not looking where you should occurs during in-studio interviews or on remote interviews, where you are being interviewed by Zoom or Skype.
Let’s start with in-studio interviews.
In-studio TV interviews
With these in-studio interviews, you are looking at the host/reporter – whoever you are having the conversation with. Yes, I know you are trying to communicate with the viewer. But it is a conversation with the host. Look at him or her almost the entire time.
You don’t have to stare. You can occasionally look down for a second, maybe while you think, but generally look at the host, especially when he or she is asking you questions.
You do not look at the camera while you answer. Again, you are having a conversation. When you have a conversation in real life, you aren’t looking somewhere else while you respond to someone.
Also, one mistake people make in this setting is that they look at the monitor.
In TV studios, you will almost always be able to see the monitor that shows what the audience sees. Don’t look at it. That’s even worse than looking directly into the camera, as the monitor is usually below the camera. So you aren’t looking at the host, and you aren’t even looking at the viewer. It makes you look nervous, and it looks unprofessional.
Now there is one small exception, and that’s in the beginning of the interview.
The interview will always start with the host introducing you. Depending on the feel of the show, you might be able to – and you might want to – look directly into the camera just for a second, smile, and then focus on the host for the rest of the interview.
Some people discourage even that quick look at the camera. I believe if you do it well – and that’s something you will have to watch for when you watch your interview later as a way to improve – then it’s the way to go.
The other area I mentioned is the remote interview.
Remote TV interviews
This is where experts are just awful.
With COVID-19, TV studios were mostly closed to the public, so all interviews were done remotely, even on network cable news and top 5 TV markets.
But with the pandemic, Zoom and Skype, and even FaceTime, became key methods of doing these interviews. And because studios found them easy and cheap to do – no travel, can be done quickly – they will be here to stay.
But just watch a news show anywhere for 30 minutes and you will see this mistake.
The expert is looking at his or her computer screen. That sounds fine, except that when you watch it, it looks like he or she is looking down at the floor or close to it.
With a remote interview, you want to look right at the camera.
We will talk about equipment for remote interviews and studios in your home or office and setup and more in future episodes, but for today’s purposes, let’s just say you are looking at your webcam.
It’s tricky to look at the webcam when the screen shows you and the host. But don’t do it. Practice this on Zoom calls for work. Look at the webcam directly – the entire time. You can even get sticky notes in the shape of arrows. Try those and put them on your computer so that they point to the webcam.
And a final point on this involves how you should position with computer and camera.
How to position your camera and computer
You want the camera at the level of your eyes, not below it.
Most experts do these interviews on a laptop sitting on their desk, so they are looking down.
The viewer then sees your ceiling or ceiling fan or lights in the background. It looks unprofessional.
If you have to use a laptop, and you are using the built-in webcam (which I’m not a fan of) or an external webcam, make sure to put some books or something similar to lift up the laptop and bring it to the level of your face so that you are looking directly at the camera at eye level.
Even better, once you do a lot of these, you can invest in a DLSR camera and send that signal to Zoom or Skype. The camera quality is immensely better, and you can use green screens and other features to really look great.
I know this sounds picky, but it matters. You are trying to build a connection with the viewer and have the viewer learn from you and hopefully like you. If you are looking at the wrong place, it will strike the viewer as odd, and he or she will be distracted by that and not your message.
In the studio, look at the host, not the camera or monitor, except maybe for a second as he or she introduces you.
Remotely, look only at the camera or webcam and not at the computer screen.
You will instantly come off as more professional than 95% of experts doing these interviews.
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.