Are you camera shy? Just a little uncomfortable with the idea of appearing on TV? Well, now is the moment to conquer your fears because video is rapidly becoming the most powerful and productive communications medium around. Today, video content is 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of a Google search than good old fashioned text.
This has huge implications and our clients are responding by including more videos on their websites and pushing this content through social media channels. Publications too are increasingly using video as a means of expanding readership and circulation. Net result? Our clients are finding themselves in front of the camera lens more often than even a year ago. And that’s not just online; there has been a huge increase in TV appearances too.
It all sounds great, but doing a good job in front of the camera is a totally different proposition from handling a press interview. Yes, there are some general rules that still apply. For instance you should always prepare your three key points and, as far as possible, use every question that’s thrown at you to put across one or more of these.
But, as most video and a lot of TV is pre-recorded, you have to legislate for the fact that you might do half an hour’s worth of filming for just a minute or two of material that’s actually used. So how do your ensure that your key messages are included in the final cut? First, be consistent: stick to your messages all the way through the recording. Second: think soundbite. Look for imaginative ways of putting across your story. Original, topical similes and metaphors work well. For instance, “almost as big as the UK’s budget deficit” or “It’s a bit like driving round the M25 in a Friday night rush hour.”
If you are sitting for the interview, sit up straight and well back in your chair. Don’t swivel and don’t overdo the hand-waving and gestures. Used sparingly, they are effective; otherwise not. Look at the interviewer, not the camera (unless it’s a remote interview and you’ll be talking to a monitor/camera anyway). Don’t be stand-offish; engage with the person who is interviewing you. No need to go overboard, “That really is a very good question John, if I may say so.” It’s much better to say simply “good question” or “I’m glad you’ve asked me that because…”
Remember you will almost always know more about your subject than the person who is interviewing you. That should give you confidence. Always correct your interviewer’s mistakes if there’s an opportunity to do so because it adds to your natural authority.
Take control of the interview. Answer questions properly when you can, but don’t be afraid to respond by saying things like “I think the point here is…”, or “the thing to remember is” before latching onto one of your key points.
Think about your body language. Never fold your arms, shake your head at questions or use any expression that might suggest arrogance or rudeness. Aim for empathy, sympathy, concern, excitement, enthusiasm.
Try and anticipate the final question and end with flourish: a really good soundbite that will stay in people’s minds: “Imagine what 2,000 new jobs could do for the whole economy of Blackburn. This investment could transform this town.”
Remember that although live interviews might sound more nerve-wracking than recorded ones, they are actually easier to control and have the added benefit of usually being very short.
Ultimately, being in front of the camera is a performance; try to find your inner actor. And remember, practice really does make perfect; so be prepared, stay focused and most of all enjoy it! We strongly recommend proper media training before you take on TV and video, but if you haven’t got time, here are Aspectus PR’s hot tips for silver screen success:
- Be ready to be called up at the 11th hour – live television, news waits for nobody.
- Sit comfortably, if you feel awkward, chances are you will look it.
- Let your personality shine through but don’t fidget or swivel and, use hand gestures sparingly. Every movement is exaggerated on screen.
- Don’t be too theatrical. You’re not Steven Fry or Judi Dench.
- Physical appearance is important: looking professional is just as important as sounding professional.
- Dress code – No stripes or patterns. Find out what backdrop you’ll be up against: white against white, pink against red etc won’t work. Wear something you’re comfortable in and that’s in line with the audience you are trying to reach.
- Above all else, rehearse and remember your three key points and some good soundbites. Get those right and you won’t go far wrong.