With physical distancing these days, more and more journalists are reporting from their homes. I’ve been giving live TV interviews via Skype and FaceTime from my home office and kitchen. And you can too! Here are my personal secrets of success.
1 – Use a tripod for your smart phone. This helps to steady the camera. I set up the tripod directly on my counter top. Raise the tripod so that the camera is at eye level. If you’re sitting with your laptop, place it on a shoebox, small crate or stack of books. The key is to get the camera at your eye level so that you’re not looking down.
2 – Add a hint of colour in the background. If you’re in the kitchen, add appropriate and relevant props. Make sure there aren’t any dirty rags or dishes to be seen (just throw them in the sink!) My kitchen is white, so I usually add a bowl of fresh fruit and fresh flowers. Some greenery or my bright red Kitchen Aid stand mixer would also look nice.
3 – Know your boundaries. Most TV producers will ask you to position your phone in a landscape orientation during the interview. If you’re sitting, arrange any props so that they appear in frame. If you’re standing and moving with a food demo, mark your boundaries left, right, front and back. You want to know how far forward you can walk without your head being chopped off the screen!
4 – Sit or stand. Our voices tend to project better when standing, but do what feels most comfortable for you. If you’re sitting, avoid slouching or leaning too far forward. If you’re standing, tilt the camera so that the ceiling isn’t in view…and remember to elevate the camera to eye level.
5 – Watch your lighting. If possible, have a soft light shining on your face. Beware of overhead lighting. My kitchen is full of pot lights. Just before my interviews, I cover one of the lights with a sheet of paper to avoid having it glow directly on my head!
6 – Wear earbuds. This gives a clearer, crisper audio. If you’re using wireless earbuds, make sure they’re 100% charged and ready to go (shout out to my pal Shannon Crocker, RD for this tip!) If you’re not using earbuds, throw some towels on the floor – this helps to absorb the sound and minimize the echo.
7 – Pick a bright colour. Solid jewel tones look best on TV. Blue is always an excellent choice no matter what your hair colour or skin tone. If you’re seated, your lower body will be out of frame so go ahead and wear your shorts or comfy sweat pants! J
8 – Do a practice run live before the segment. Ask a friend or family member to call you via SKYPE or FaceTime so that you can what it will look like – you can see the lighting, your headspace, where you should stand, and see what is seen on the screen. (Thanks again to Shannon Crocker, RD for this tip!)
9 – Turn off all notifications on your smart phone. Same thing with your laptop or computer. Put a note on the door so that nobody rings the doorbell. Unplug the landline phone. Tell the family when you’re going on live TV so that they don’t accidentally walk into the interview. Get someone to take the dog out during the interview.
10 – Send visuals and B-roll plus do a sound check. Send any visuals, images and B-roll to the producer in advance which can then be used as cutaway shots during your interview. The TV show producer calls me a day in advance and we decide on the best spot for the live interview. On the day of the interview, another producer (who is actually on site in the studio) calls me 5 minutes in advance and we do a sound check. Make sure you have the phone number of the producer who is in the studio in case you need some troubleshooting.
Smile, smile, smile and have fun!
Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments.