With video expanding rapidly across social media, traditional broadcast interviews are increasingly likely to appear in news feeds next to anything from funny pets to You Tube vloggers. What are the implications for spokespeople who find themselves in front of the camera and how do you deliver an authentic message that will sit well in a digital environment?
An authentic broadcast interview for the digital age is a combination of confidence and personal belief that strikes a chord with people who see it, because it’s both serious and engaging at the same time. “Key stories that I believe in” may be a better file to have on your desk than “key messages”.
“Journalists want to interview human beings, not robots” says Kelling Wood’s Associate media trainer Sharon Thomas. “To come across well, you need to project warmth, colour and stories. You need to make it personal for yourself so that you come across as believable and personal for viewers who may well be watching you from a phone waiting at the bus stop rather than watching TV on the sofa at home”.
“Many people are media trained to within an inch of their lives” says Sharon. “It’s great to be comfortable in front of the camera, but there’s also a danger in just repeating your corporate messages in a parrot fashion. You may not seem sincere. And with so many of us now used to being filmed spontaneously on our own hand-held devices, it’s easy to appear stuffy or overly corporate”.
The digital age has brought a deluge of Internet stars who have achieved success simply by being themselves in front of a camera. It’s changing the nature of what makes an engaging on-screen presence. We may now expect a lot more from the people we see representing an organisation and it’s a challenge to get the balance right between both engaging and serious.
It’s why we increasingly respond to political and business figures who both say what they believe and believe in what they say. For those representing an organisation to the media, this means bringing something of our own personality into our messages and drawing on our own lives to illustrate the points we’re making.
“It’s not always easy to be our authentic selves in front of a camera or a microphone so it’s important to get the basics right” says Sharon Thomas. “Practice and the right techniques will get you confident enough to bring something more of yourself to the party. Strong body language and eye contact are essential. But it’s also important to bring an element of performance to an interview – think of it as you, but on a really good day, as the saying goes.”
So the need for practice and training in front of a camera hasn’t gone away.
We may just need some help and encouragement to be more like ourselves.