Mastering on-camera interviews can be challenging.
Many people over don’t feel comfortable looking down the lens of a camera, and even members of the selfie-generation can feel self conscious if they can’t use a filter during a live broadcast.
There are many elements to a successful interview, from what to wear to how to gesture, but what’s most important is the conversation’s content. You can highlight this by putting your best face forward.
Consider these tips for live or video interviews:
1. Perfect your posture.
Consider your posture in an interview setting. Your physical posture is a visual cue to your mindset in an interview – especially in a broadcast situation. It can either distract from your words or help emphasize them.
Try not to swivel in a chair or lean too far back. Instead, sit up straight and show that you’re engaged. Your body should remain relatively still, but use hand gestures as appropriate. In some settings, when your hands are not in full view of the camera, it’s better to keep your hands still and out of the frame.
2. Nod purposefully.
You might often nod in everyday conversation to demonstrate that you are actively listening to someone. However, in a broadcast situation, you might find yourself nodding out of politeness—a gesture that the audience might interpret as agreement.
You won’t be sure what is going to be said, so try not to nod until you’ve heard the full statement or question and make sure that it is fully aligned with your opinion.
3. Watch your facial expressions.
Interview situations can be tense, which can show on your face.
You might just be actively or intently listening, preparing to answer the question, but be aware of your facial expression and remain relaxed outwardly. Your look of concentration can be interpreted as angry on camera, or your seemingly friendly smile can might be seen as mocking a serious topic.
4. Maintain eye contact.
Before the interview starts, understand where and how the reporter’s cameras are used. Camera angles are very different when you are sitting face to face with a journalist, than if you are alone in a studio with just an earpiece.
It takes practice to be able to hold eye contact with an inanimate object, but this is how your audience will see you through the camera. Looking away or down, can be seen as shifty behavior or lying to viewers. At the same time, staring wide-eyed and unnaturally at the camera will give you a deer-in-headlights look that does not bode well.
Imagine that the camera is a person with whom you are having a conversation. Stay focused, but relaxed.
5. Think before you speak.
People who know that they are being recorded for television or radio sometimes feel a need to fill the silence. You might answer questions quickly so there is no dead air or pauses.
However, this can lead to several missteps that can be hard to recover from in this format.
It’s better to take a moment to think of your response than to provide inaccurate information. Also, be aware of creative editing. For example, if a journalist makes a negative statement about your organization or speaks against your beliefs, don’t repeat the comment. Editing can attribute that sound bite to you, even if that isn’t your intent.
Sandra Fathi is the president of Affect.