Greg Joslyn: All of these remote interviews I think have been super refreshing. And if something goes wrong, just roll with the punches.
Andy Azinger: Mmm hmm.
Greg: We’ve seen where toddlers wandered into the screen, somebody’s pet jumped up in their lap.
Andy: Ha, heh!
Greg; But in the age of pandemics, that might be one of the nicest things somebody sees all day, so don’t worry about it.
Andy: That’s Greg Joslyn, Vice President Media Relations and client management with the Lowe Group. We’re here with tips to nail that remote interview. I’m Andy Azinger. This is the LoweDown Podcast.
Andy: Hello, Greg.
Greg: Hi, Andy.
Andy: Well, we’re talking about an article you wrote on the LoweDown blog. Ready for your close up a few tips for nailing that remote interview or even the Monday morning zoom call with your team, which addresses the proliferation of remote interviews being conducted from home due to the Coronavirus—and not everybody does that well.
Greg: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, all live broadcast interviews, nerve racking, you know, even under the best circumstances, but then the layer in social distancing that we’ve got with Coronavirus. Now almost all the interviews are being done over Skype or other video platforms. You know, people who are being interviewed are being asked not only to star but also to be their own director. And so, we wanted to put together some tips to help our broader audience.
Andy: Well, when you’re not helping your clients, get camera ready, what’s your role with the Lowe Group?
Greg: So, I spend a lot of my time looking to get them interviews, whether it’s a broadcast interview, or print media, so that’s what I spend most of my day doing. Also, I sometimes find myself creating content for our clients. We find that content is a good door opener for journalists. If we have something that we can send them that’s valuable to look at it, it’ll prompt them to want to learn more by talking to our clients.
Andy: And then you mentioned the need to write the article, it really grew out of an actual situation.
Greg: That’s right. One of our clients was doing a remote hit on broadcast, they had not done it before. We figured we would help them better understand the lighting, what kind of camera they needed to be using, and most importantly, how to conduct the interview remotely.
Andy: Were they nervous?
Greg: They were, they were, and they ended up nailing it. So that was a good outcome.
Andy: Well, let’s break this conversation down into two parts. The first being how the landscape has changed. And then we’ll get to those tips, the ones that you helped your client with. So, the landscape, Greg.
Greg: The new landscape has actually been good news for a lot of our clients in the sense that it’s not the case that the firms that are based in New York, you know, have an inside track. So, it’s really been somewhat of a leveling of the playing field for many of our clients that are not based in New York because they can just as easily hook up with an interviewer on Skype as the guy who’s working in Manhattan.
Andy: And I find it interesting. I think there’s been, you know, quite a few articles that have been written about a) the death of expertise, but also b) the flip side that people are seeking expertise now more than ever.
Greg: Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think just in general—I’ve noticed just watching general news that the conversations just seem a little bit more relaxed and in depth. And, you know, you’re right, people are looking for expertise with this pandemic that we find ourselves in the midst of, and I think professional pundits are finding less time on TV than they used to and the real experts, whether they’re epidemiologists or portfolio managers, are having a chance to shine right now.
Andy: Right, right. Let’s take a break. And then when we get back, we’ll get into the tips. Cool.
Greg: Sounds good.
Andy: And we’re back, as we say in the business, “Lights, Camera, Action.” So, let’s go right down that list with your tips. Greg and first, “lights.”
Greg: Yeah, you know, good lighting can make a difference. That doesn’t mean that you need to hire a gaffer to come in and rewire your living room and install Klieg lights on the ceiling. It just it just means, you know, using some basic common sense. So, you know, use natural light if that’s possible. You want to face a window so you have a lot of good natural light diffuse coming in. Be careful of having windows behind you because they can shut down the aperture on your camera and make you look like you’re in the shadows. But a window beside you or in front of you is always a good call. We also think it’s a good idea to position a second light on the side to fill in the shadows. That can make a big difference. And then finally, if you want to get really fancy, you can put a piece of white Styrofoam or poster board flat on the desk in front of you and that will shine some light up into your face and get rid of more of the shadows and some of the blue screen glow that you see sometimes see when you’re watching these remote interviews.
Andy: These lighting instruments these LED lighting instruments—some even color-correct for daylight or indoor kind of called tungsten light, you know, the kind of light you have in the light bulbs in your home. And you can find them at a very, very wide variety of prices. And I will say this though, you will pay for quality.
Andy: So, I would only add that, Greg, while we move on to the next point you make, which is you’re gonna need a camera.
Greg: Yeah, you know, and for most of us, that means the camera that’s built into our laptop, or maybe you have a camera mounted on top of your screen. That’s fine, I think, you know, again, you don’t need to go out and invest a lot of money in fancy equipment. It’s more how you use it.
And so, for the camera, that just means positioning it in the right place. You don’t want to have it down low so it’s looking up at your chin. It’s better to lift it up. If it’s on your laptop, maybe put your laptop on top of a book or a box or something like that to change the angle a little bit.
You know, another tip is that you can tape a picture of your family or your dog next to the lens so that you’re looking at it when you’re conducting the interview and maybe have a good expression on your face when you’re doing that.
And then the more important aspect is probably framing the shot. So that means you know, how close you’re sitting to the camera and what’s behind you. There’s a whole Twitter meme now or a Twitter account called Rate My Zoom Background, where people are critiquing newsmakers’ set-ups, saying that some are more artful than others. So, you want to have a little tableau. You don’t want to have too much stuff in the background. You don’t want it to be cluttered but you also don’t want it to look completely barren. You don’t want to have a black wall behind you. So, family pictures, your CFA certificate, which is what one of our clients had in their shot as a really nice touch. You could even have some subtle branding. You could have a coffee cup with your firm’s logo on there, or a deal trophy, something like that. You know, again, just to paint the picture of who you are, because people do find themselves kind of looking behind you to see what that is, and you want to you want to paint the right picture.
Andy: And the last of the kind of big three is action. So how do you define action? And how do you position that for your clients and putting them on air remotely?
Greg: Yeah, well, that’s you want to be thinking about how you’re coming across during the actual interview. So, you know, whether it’s an in-studio or a remote interview, we always counsel our clients to you know, prepare, think about the key points that you want to make. You’re obviously going to be talking about something topical –a particular stock or a particular financial data point that just came out from the Department of Labor–you’re gonna have specific things that the host wants to talk to you about. But you always want to keep in mind, the core messaging that we’ve worked with you to develop about your firm and work those messages in anytime you can. And if you’re at home, you have the advantage of, you know, you can pin those up above on the wall above your computer screen so you don’t forget to get your key points in that you wanted to make. So that kind of is evergreen, you always want to be thinking about your core messaging and working that into the interviews whenever you can.
With remote interviews, there are a few more other things—there are a few more things to think about to keep the conversation crisp. There’s a tendency in remote interviews for the participants to talk over each other. There’s usually somewhat of a delay. More so than when you’re sitting in the studio. In the studio, you can pick up on subtle body language cues that you know a person’s indicating that they’re ready to say something and, and so you’re going to talk over each other less than you would I think in a remote interview, so you’ve got to be particularly careful about that.
Andy: Right? Right.
Greg: So, there are a couple of ways to do that. One is trying to speak in a in paragraph instead of a sentence, or instead of sentence fragments, back and forth with the host. It’s a real good idea to be thoughtful about what you’re going to say. Say it in a somewhat longer statement, maybe longer than you typically would, and then pause noticeably to really throw it back to the host who’s interviewing you. So, they, they can really tell that you’ve summed up you know, with your inflection. And that’s, and that’s how it goes, and you throw it back to them.
You want to be an active listener, particularly if, if you’re appearing on a panel with a number of remote guests. You don’t want to be like staring off into the sky, you want to look at your camera, be engaged in the conversation, even when you’re not speaking. First of all, that just makes you ready to respond to something that they do throw it to you. But also, it’s just good body language. It looks good on-screen people are going to gravitate toward those who look like they’re involved in the conversation. So, we, we recommend active listening.
And then kind of alluding to what I was saying earlier, in studio where the visual cues are easy to pick up on. If you’ve got something to say it’s not a bad idea to raise your hand or your finger or kind of just indicate that you’re ready to jump into the conversation.
Andy: Excellent. Well, so, there’s a phrase that every crew member and actor on a set, loves to hear the director say, and it is “It’s a wrap.” And it’s usually followed by cheers and applause and pats on the back and all that. But what’s your spin on “That’s a wrap?”
Greg: Well, I would just say, you know, relax and enjoy it. All of these remote interviews, I think have been super refreshing. You’re there, they’re more personal, they’re more authentic. You’re inviting the public into your home. So, you know, be a gracious host. Smile, enjoy yourself. And if something goes wrong, just roll with the punches like you would if you were hosting a dinner party, or something like that. We’ve seen a couple, you know, incidents where toddlers wandered into the screen or somebody’s pet jumped up in their lap. And you know, in the in the age of pandemics that might be one of the one of the nicest things somebody sees all day, so don’t worry about it.
Andy: [chuckles] That’s, this is all been great advice. And more than that, I think, just really helpful perspective. And for our listeners, you can keep up on the LoweDown, both the podcast and the blog at lowcom.com. Until next time, Greg, thank you very much for talking with us today.
Greg: My pleasure, Andy. Thank you.
Andy: Absolutely. I’m Andy Azinger. And, that’s a wrap!
Greg: Ha, ha, ha … OK!