I don’t know if any one else has noticed, but a lot of live video conferencing platform interviews on TV these days look awful. Incredibly intelligent researchers, health care professionals and business leaders have their insight undermined by low quality video and unfortunate framing that leaves audiences staring up their noses or at the unmade bed behind them instead of listening to what they have to say. But these interviews don’t have to look awful.
Here are some helpful tips to consider before your next online TV interview.
One reason for the poor video quality associated with on-line interviews has to do with the shortcomings of your webcam. Light behind you will put your face in the dark. Light beside you and above you cast strange shadows. The best place to put your light source is right behind your camera. And if you don’t have access to light stands you can always place lamps on either side of the computer and use the lampshades as diffusers. The result will not be as consistent, the video quality of your interview will improve by 100–200% immediately.
Framing is another place many people fall short when it comes to their on-line interviews. People too frequently tilt their laptop screen back, resulting in that perspective that looks right up their nose. For proper framing, first do what you need to to get the webcam at eye level. Nobody will know if you set your laptop on a bunch of books to get the height just right, but they will notice your nose hairs if the camera is pointed up at you.
Look directly into the camera
Now that you have the webcam at eye level, look directly into it. If your eyes wander around the room or across your screen, you will look distracted or shifty-eyed and you can say goodbye to your credibility.
Audio is the secret to a great interview
Most viewers can forgive low video quality, but they can’t accept low audio quality. This is another place where computer and smartphone microphones often fall short. They’re great for quick conference calls, but the microphones are designed to pick up all the sound in the room, not just the person in front of the camera. So make sure you’re in a quiet room, preferably with carpet on the floor to cut down on the echo, and far away from the bathrooms if there is anyone else in the house.
Stage your background
Once you have great light, proper framing and good audio, it’s time to look behind you. Guests too often forget this step and the result is viewers staring in amazement at their messy bedroom or living room decor choices instead of listening to what they have to say. No one is expecting a full studio background but mind the mess and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Maybe that means cleaning up or even consider turning the camera slightly to frame a different part of the room. The best background for Skype interview calls should be complementary, not distracting.
Make sure you have the bandwidth
Lighting, audio, framing and background are all elements of a good on-line video interview that can be improved with some simple equipment and consideration. The one remaining element is far less flexible. Video conferencing calls require a lot of Internet bandwidth. Many Internet services also only offer limited upload speeds, something else important for video calls. Most video conferencing will adjust depending on your Internet connection, but that generally means downgrading quality, something we’re trying to avoid. Also consider who else is sharing your bandwidth. If you are doing the interview at a home office, and the kids are down stairs streaming Super Mario Odyssey, it could crush your bandwidth and make you look pixelated.
Here are a few quick tips to squeezing the most out of your Internet bandwidth for a video call:
- Connect via ethernet. Wifi is great for Internet browsing or watching videos, but a two-way Internet call will tax that signal, especially if other people are using it. Plugging in directly to the Internet ensures a more stable connection.
- If you have an option, aim for 720p streaming. 1080p is nice, but few connections will stream it properly for a video call. A strong 720p feed will look better on TV than a bad 1080p stream.
- Close every other program on your computer. You want to preserve as much bandwidth as possible for the Skype call itself. If other people are sharing the connection, ask them to limit video streaming, uploads or any other activity that consumes a lot of bandwidth.
- If all else fails, opt for a better Internet connection.
Turn off you cell phone. (self explanatory)
Speak at a normal volume They can hear you. No need to yell.
A smile makes you appear trustworthy and confident. People prefer to listen to happy people over angry people.
Dress accordingly.For any interview you should look professional. A jacket is always a good touch, for men and women. Also, avoid patterns when on camera. Stick with solid colours, do not match your clothes colour to the background (or else you will be a floating head) and avoid solid white at all costs.
Robert Simpson, the President and CEO of PR Associates specializes in preparing professionals to effectively communicate in person, in the media, on Wall Street, Bay Street, online or in times of crisis.