How to prepare for a live TV interview on zoom/skype online
A few weeks ago I was invited to speak on Tritiyo Matra, a Bengali Newsnight programme that airs globally. Media is essential to raising the profile of our charity, but also the personal credibility of its leadership. Every time I speak publicly it can help gain support either through money, new connections, volunteers and essentially, awareness of the causes we support.
I put together a few tips below on how to prepare for such a call and the challenges I faced in doing an online TV interview.
Tips on preparation for an online TV interview
Make sure you have a light that is constant and is not behind you. A window or a light bulb behind you will show on screen and be annoying for the viewer as well as cast you into shadow.
I invested in a cheap ring light marketed to YouTubers who want to do make-up tutorials. We do regular Zoom calls, meetings and conferences online, so it is a worthwhile investment for me. You can use a lamp or other lighting.
I used a bunch of heavy books to lift up my laptop so the camera is just above eye level. It all looked a mess but no one was going to see apart from me. You do not want to look down into the camera. Apart from this angle being unflattering, people can see up your nose.
I had a glass of water ready right next to my laptop on one side and my notes on the other. You may spill water onto your notes so better to have everything separate.
Test these beforehand and make sure it all works. I had a spare pair with me just in case!
Cameras highlight skin and can make you appear shiny. If you are brown-skinned this is even more the case. I used a mattifier for anti-shine. For my face and eye shape I can use dark eye colour to accentuate my eyes. This may not be the case for you as this look can appear overdone and too heavy for a TV interview. Work with what works best for your look. I used an eyebrow definer to darken my eyebrows. On screen makeup tends to look faded so do everything stronger than you normally would. Lastly, I put on a ton of blusher to add colour. As I mentioned, on screen you tend to look paler or faded out, so do not be afraid of layering on that blusher.
I have curly frizz for hair. I spent the most amount of time ensuring the frizz did not appear. I washed and conditioned my hair and blow dried it. I use anti-frizz and hair oil to defeat the frizz! If you have hair which is more manageable than mine, then you will not need to spend so much time here. Do make sure it is away from your face and you face can be seen clearly on screen.
For Bengali TV I made sure to wear a professional looking top which covers my shoulders and is not low cut. I opted for long sleeves. Be aware of your audience and what statement you want to make. My aim is to look professional and have the audience focus on the content of what I say. I am young looking and female and I understand this can detract attention from my message. I work hard or harder to look professional.
Whatever look you go for make it a conscious decision. Be aware people will judge you for it and it will impact the message you are trying to get across to your audience.
The language was in Bangla. The interviewer spoke in Bangla as did the other participant. I spoke in English. If you do happen to be part of a mixed language interview do pay attention. Your question can come at you just when you switch off, which is too easy to do if you don’t understand what is going on.
This was a TV interview so I did not have a ready-made presentation with slides. I did watch the programme and read about it to understand the format. I also got in touch with the host beforehand to attempt to build rapport. A rapport with the host or members of an audience makes it easier for any type of public speaking.
This is a current affairs programme so I made sure to be on top of current affairs. This is part of the work I didn’t have to invest too much time. Even so, I never take for granted an opportunity to speak about our work or raise publicity. I always prepare.
Camera and echo
Look at the camera when you speak. I was stumped when my face appeared in large every time I spoke and forgot to do this. You can look away at the screen when someone else speaks. If you look at the camera you look at people listening to you.
Every time I spoke there was an echo. I tried three times to reset the call but it would not go. So I got on with it.
An online TV interview was a first for me and it was a great opportunity to learn and grow. Good luck with that interview!