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How to improve your on-screen appearances from your home or office

If there’s anything we’ve learned during this pandemic, it’s that we need to be flexible, adaptable, and sometimes innovative to make an impact in the media. During lockdown, television programs and news are often dependent on Zoom or Skype for interviews with expert talent. The onus now is on the expert to make every effort to ensure they not only deliver compelling and relevant information, but they also look and sound great.

When you can’t be in the studio, you need to be able to create your own studio environment at home or in your office. Here are some suggestions and tips that you can employ to ensure you make the right impact. These tips are also applicable if you’re presenting a webinar, taking part in an online video event, or just looking to create quality video content.

Location: Identify a location within your home or office to be used as a broadcasting point that’s quiet and where you won’t be interrupted. Try to find somewhere that has natural light during the day. Avoid rooms with hard edges or too many windows. A carpeted floor will also help to lessen the chance of you sounding echoey.

Equipment: You’ll obviously need a device such as laptop, phone or mobile device to do the cross. Laptops don’t always have the best quality cameras so you might consider using your phone or iPad. A ring light is a must for any video or TV cross. They’re inexpensive and can be purchased online and delivered. Make sure your internet speed is adequate, and you won’t drop out mid-interview or freeze.

Signage and backdrops: Identify a location within their office or business that has a pull-up banner with company logos or some signage that identifies the business. The same can be done at home or in a home office. If you plan to use signage, make sure it’s subtle and not too overpowering. Make sure you have a quality backdrop that reflects well on you and your business – a tidy bookshelf, a plant or some artwork is ideal.

Lighting: This is critical for any TV cross, as the medium requires the clearest pictures possible. Use as much natural light as you can and have it in front of you or to the side, but definitely not behind you. Shadows and darkened faces, even in times of a pandemic, are just not adequate for a TV broadcast. Invest in an O-ring light – everyone should have one for social media posts, pictures and videos.

Sound: Enclosed rooms with brick walls, floor to ceiling windows and hard floors tend to become echo chambers. Be prepared to hang linen and blankets up to stop sounds reverberating. Earpieces or a good quality clip-on microphone will look professional and make sure you come across loud and clear. Try to find a space free from outside noises like traffic, wildlife, pets and children.

Dress: Makes sure you look professional. For men and women, a collared shirt and jacket is a safe option. A collared shirt with a discrete logo is also perfectly acceptable. Stripes, patterns and too much white should be avoided – choose solid colours.

Paying some attention to detail when delivering your best to the media won’t go unrewarded. Journalists and producers remember which experts and commentators make an effort to look and sound great, and you will quickly become a trusted asset.

By Nic Hayes, Managing Director, Media Stable.

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