10 Fast Visual Tips for a Fabulous Zoom Media Interview

Jun 17, 2020

By Marcia Rhodes

Congratulations! Your amazingly talented PR team just landed an interview for you on a local or national news program, to be conducted via Zoom. Since you regularly use Zoom for video calls, the interview should be a piece of cake. Right?

Well, it’s true that Zoom is arguably the world’s easiest-to-use video platform. It makes remote interviews possible without the need for an elaborate home TV studio set-up. There’s just one catch: you are now your own lighting, audio and make-up crew.

But don’t worry. Part of the appeal of Zoom media interviews is that they bring an authentic, more personal element to conversations between reporters and the people they’re interviewing. So no need to spend hours trying to exactly replicate a professionally produced interview. Just get the following basics down and you’ll project confidence, polish and warmth.  

Tip #1: Dress in professional business attire (men, you can skip the tie). Solid blue shirts and tops project well on TV while white might make you look washed out. Avoid busy patterns and dangly or noisy jewelry that will distract the viewer from what you’re actually saying.

Tip #2: Powder your nose and forehead to “de-shine.” Any shine gets exaggerated on TV. If you don’t happen to have a compact of powder on hand, crank up your AC ahead of the interview (unless it’s a loud window unit.)

Tip #3: Get to know Zoom’s “Touch up my appearance” feature. It applies an instant soft focus to your video display, which presents a more polished appearance.

Tip #4: Maintain eye contact with viewers. Look directly at the camera on your computer or laptop screen. Experts suggest putting an arrow pointing to the camera so your eyes are automatically drawn to it.

Tip #5: But it’s okay to occasionally look down at notes if needed. In fact, it’s advisable to have three key points you want to keep in mind written down and placed near you out of view of the camera. When you’re trying to remember a point, it’s better to look down at notes than up at the ceiling. Looking up during an interview actually makes people appear dishonest. You can also prop up your note to the side of your camera to use as “cue cards.”

Tip #6: Use your laptop or desktop computer, not your smartphone. This way your interviewer can record you in landscape mode.

Tip #7: Avoid sitting too close to the camera. For some reason, many people are inclined to get right up into the camera lens. For the eventual viewer this creates the disconcerting experience of a giant face peering back through their computer screen. Sit far enough away from the camera so your head, shoulders and chest are visible.

Tip #8: Put your laptop on a stack of books so that the center of the screen is eye level. This will elongate your neck and instantly hide any double chins. Add or remove books as needed for just the right height.

Tip #9: Make sure light is shining at you, not from behind. Either place a lamp by your computer or sit near a window with natural light so that light falls on your face. If a strong light is shining behind you, viewers will only see your silhouette.

Tip #10: Avoid virtual backgrounds. They’re fun with friends and coworkers, but not appropriate for media interviews. A tidy home office is an ideal background. If you don’t have a dedicated office space, however, be aware of your surroundings. A bed, an open door that leads into a bathroom or a mirror in the background could prove embarrassing. Also, try to find somewhere you can shut out children, pets, etc. so you can avoid this situation:

As for what you say and how you say it during your interviews…that’s a whole different topic called “Media Training.” And everyone, no matter how often they’ve been interviewed by the media, benefit greatly from it. We offer media training right here at Amendola, so reach out to us at info@acmarketingpr.com to learn more.

Marcia Rhodes

Marcia Rhodes is an award-winning public relations and marketing communications expert with more than three decades of experience in PR, media relations, video, crisis and executive communications. She previously held PR/Marketing positions at Accenture, WorldatWork and Six Sigma Academy.