Don’t let your message become overshadowed by these common mistakes for virtual media interviews.

Like most everything else these days, media interviews have gone virtual. I’ve been asked a few times now if this new setting has helped or hindered my clients in their own interviews. My response is the same as it was for in-person interviews: It depends on the individual. How prepared are they? How comfortable are they with their message and with the interview platform?

While the foundation of any successful media interview might not change in the virtual world, the execution of one certainly may.

Here are seven tips to acing your (new) virtual media interviews like an old pro:

1. Get your setting right

Find a stationary location with good lighting and no distractions in the background. Sit straight up and still in front of the camera with it angled showing your full face. Avoid the upward angle, avoid rocking back and forth. If you are in front of a window or bright light, make sure it’s not drowning out your face or casting a dark shadow over you. Try not to have your coworkers (that includes peers, kids, and pets!) moving through the frame.

2. The camera is always on

Particularly with virtual meeting platforms, it is difficult to know which view setting people are seeing or recording you from. Even if you don’t see yourself pictured on the view setting you’re using, it doesn’t mean others don’t see you – we do.

3. We’re looking at your face

Equally important to knowing the camera is always on, is knowing we’re always looking at your face. Unlike in-person interviews, the reporter and audience do not necessarily have the opportunity to look around the room or at other areas of visual interest. We only have what’s on the tightly framed screen in front of us – which is (hopefully) only your face. Be extra mindful to use appropriate facial expressions and body language.

4. Practice with your co-interviewees

If your media interview is being held with multiple peers, make sure you are practicing together ahead of time. It is difficult to give and read team cues through a Zoom screen. Know the specific roles of each person on the interview and also identify opportunities where you can support one another throughout. You may even want to practice addressing your portion of the question and then inviting your colleague(s) by name to also weigh in.

5. Get the technology down

There are many different virtual meeting tools out there (I have seven downloaded on my iPhone right now), and they all function differently. Make sure you know which platform your media interview will be conducted on. Practice using it with a peer (while you’re at it, practice the whole interview!). On the day-of, make sure your device and headphones are fully charged, and log-on early to address any hiccups before you go live.

6. Don’t forget “traditional” media interview best practices

The platform of your interview doesn’t necessarily affect the successful delivery of your message. Don’t forget the basics – including having a thorough understanding of your media landscape and audience; developing no more than three key messages (easy for you to remember, easy for your audience to remember); anticipating and answering tough questions; and practicing techniques to remain on message.

7. Practice, practice, practice

Did I say this yet? With few exceptions, there are no successful media interviews without thorough preparation, evaluation, and practice!

For better or worse, virtual media interviews are here to stay. And while they may present a short-term challenge in getting used to them, the long-term opportunities to reach a wider audience on a more flexible basis is ripe for those willing to take it on.

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out these two good reads:

And give us a shout anytime!