In the recent past, when our clients were booked for a live broadcast media interview, they would typically go into a TV studio for press interviews that involved a whole team of professionals including camera and lighting operators, sound engineers, and even makeup. During an in-person interview, it was easier to read the room, react to questions, and use those honed interpersonal skills to answer questions. The same goes for executive meetings, sales meetings, and showings of units.
The reality now is that your next live media interview or apartment showing might be much different depending on what market you’re in. No more camera operators, expert lighting or sound engineers, and certainly no studio. You’re now your own producer, whether that means Zoom or other remote video conferencing tools.
Besides the technical know-how, you need to know how to act and react on camera during remote broadcasts. This goes beyond media appearances, and now applies to the board room or broker meetings and even showings of units, the majority of which are now being held via video conference. These tips will help you project the best, most professional image whether it’s during a TV interview or meeting with the leasing team.
Your Background Matters
Your whole house is now a set and studio, so make it look professional. We’ve all seen interviews or been on Zoom meetings where the background is all clutter, from stacks of books to open closets crammed with rumpled clothes. Your viewers pick up on this, so ensure that what you’re projecting to your audience matches the image you’re trying to present and is professional. Example? Don’t set your Zoom background to the Golden Gate Bridge or Tahiti, either. Save that for your happy hour with friends.
Create your “set” so that it’s not too plain, not distracting, and not messy. Think professional and clean. Make sure it’s appropriate for the interview, so skip your couch or the bedroom. Your home office is now a podium, a studio, and a boardroom. What do you want it to look like?
Lighting and Blocking your Scenes
A common problem with online calls is lack of lighting that causes darkened silhouettes of a face filling the screen. Purchase a Halo Ring Light with a tripod to avoid backlighting, close the curtains to block out light, and don’t walk and talk in front of open windows—all that light streaming in will distort your image (literally). Walk the room beforehand and look for the right angles and block each step so you know what lighting works.
Once you have the lighting nailed down, make sure your camera (or webcam) is positioned right. Position it slightly higher than your face and at a distance. If walking and talking, use a selfie stick.
Stop the Noise
Reducing noise is just as important as controlling the lighting if you want to communicate professionalism. Find a closed quiet space away from household happenings like barking dogs or blaring TVs. Shut the door to your “studio” room, lock it, and stick an “on the air” sign to the door so household members know to not disturb you. Treat your space like it’s a studio set—because it is.
The same rules apply if you’re doing a live apartment unit tour for a potential renter. Is your project under construction? Make sure the windows are closed so potential renters can’t see or hear construction workers and can experience just the apartment’s amenities. Wearing ear buds can cut out the sound of power tools as well.
Let’s face it, having a conversation with a potential tenant, speaking with a leasing agent, or doing a live media interview with your webcam can feel awkward. But it doesn’t have to be. Use the thoughtful pause. In other words, pause and make sure people are done talking before you speak or answer a question. This makes you look polite and shows online finesse like you know how to have a conversation.
Phone calls are easy. You can doodle, stare off into space, check email. You’d never do that in an in-person interview or meeting, and the same goes for Zoom calls. Be attentive. Look at the camera while others are talking, don’t go half off-camera, fidget, or touch your face. React to people like you would in person.
As you research and get ready for your interview or tour, don’t forget what to wear. No stripes or busy patterns or loud, solid colors. You might need to stand for your meeting or interview, too, so get fully dressed. Remember the recent interview with the guy who was wearing shorts? It was funny and he played it off, but don’t be that guy. Get dressed like you’re in an in-person interview. It’ll feel good to get out of your sweats or shorts for a change.
Booked on a news show? Watch a couple segments, get a feel for the interviewer’s style and cadence and how the interviews are conducted on Zoom. If time permits, do a practice run with your publicist and record it from a few different angles and looks—see what works.
Doing a live virtual apartment tour? Do a pre-walkthrough and find the most flattering angles and POV for the home. Mark the best spots to showcase the unit, use a selfie stick for a flattering angle, and know ahead of time what you’re going to be highlighting or showing.
Always test your equipment before the interview to make sure it’s working properly and everything looks okay. Shiny forehead? Powder it. Get used to seeing yourself on camera. Also, have a backup plan. Be able to use your phone or tablet with cellular data if the internet goes down.
Lastly, don’t sweat it. Walk it through, do a couple of tests, practice, and think like a producer. The silver lining? Being your own producer gives you more control of the image that’s being communicated. Take control of the situation, see it as an opportunity, and thrive in this new environment.