The toddler tantrum under the desk, the conference call mystery flush, the naked spouse sprinting behind your video conference: all hazards of the new work-from-home reality.
But for those working in communications in the time of coronavirus, at-home, livestreamed interviews are now the rule rather than the exception.
We can’t keep your kid from needing algebra advice during the middle of your interview, but we can offer five easy tips to make those computer camera connections a bit better.
Your background can make or break your interview.
You want to strike the right balance between an interesting background and something that’s too distracting. Leave some space behind you and your background or angle your chair so that you are shooting into a corner. Too close against a stark background looks more like a DMV photo than an interview. It’s a good idea to take a screenshot of your background so you can make sure there’s nothing unnecessary or distracting behind you.
Your swivel chair might be great for wheeling around the office, but to keep you sitting still, consider doing your interviews from a stationary chair with a back.
Sit on the edge of your seat and roll your shoulders back to help you sit up straighter. And, avoid interviews from big armchairs and couches which can swallow people and make it easier to have bad posture.
It’s likely you don’t have professional lighting, but you can still make the best of what you’ve got.
Don’t sit in front of a window, it will put you in silhouette. If you can, have natural light in front of your face or to the side. Avoid harsh overhead lighting, especially fluorescent lights, and instead consider a small lamp to the side to help soften the light on your face.
Try to place the camera or laptop at eye-level.
That will likely mean propping it up on something solid like a stack of books. From personal experience, don’t use something like a cardboard box that could collapse in the middle of your interview.
When you are doing the interview, maintain eye contact with the small camera on your laptop, not the image of yourself or the person interviewing you. This is easier said than done, but it is crucial to connecting with the audience. We all know you have on pajama pants under the desk, but for what is going to be on-camera, choose solid, darker colors which transmit better over live-stream.
If you can use your computer microphone, great, but if not, unobtrusive headphones with a built-in microphone are generally acceptable. Make sure to test them out in advance and have a back-up plan if they don’t work. Try to close and lock doors to avoid interruptions from people, pets and other distractions.
And, remember, as always, assume the mic is always on and recording. From the minute you turn on your computer, no matter who you are talking to, don’t say or do anything you don’t want broadcast on national TV. And remember to disconnect when you are finished.
In the end, you’re at home, your interviewer may be at home and the audience is also at home, so everyone understands that this isn’t the ideal situation. But taking these tips into consideration can help make sure it’s your message that comes through and not the chaos that is happening in the rest of the world and inside our own homes.