Executives are the movers and shakers of your business. They have extensive knowledge about their company and industry, they broker business deals, and they are the de facto representatives of the company.
Yet even though they represent a company, they may not be the best at answering interview questions or appearing on camera. They’re not actors, after all.
Being on camera can be quite intimidating no matter how experienced you are. Even veteran actors like Ryan Reynolds get anxious before camera interviews.
This anxiety can make you trip over words and appear unprofessional. A few bad moments on camera can undo years of careful brand- and reputation-building.
That’s where public relations professionals come into the picture. PR professionals can help executives come across as skillful and effective communicators. In today’s video-centric world, media attention and interviews can be a huge opportunity for your business.
You don’t need to be a PR professional to get headed in the right direction. Aftermarq has six tips that will help you prepare for being on camera and hopefully build your brand’s reputation. (We’ll refer to “you” as if you are the executive we are advising).
1. Do Your Research
Research is the most critical aspect of preparing an executive for being on camera. Focus on the language your company uses, and collect important phrases you’ll want to express throughout the interview. The key is to present a consistent message.
Try to think as if you are the one running the interview. What kinds of questions do you think the interviewer will ask? Are they more focused on you or the business as a whole? What “gotcha” questions do you think might come up?
The intensity level of the interview or media spot depends on the person doing the interview. Preparing to be on a congressional statement panel is different than a puff piece about your upcoming product releases. Some basic questions that may be asked during an on-camera interview include:
- Can you tell us about your organization and position?
- What is your company’s mission?
- How would you describe your company’s programs?
Consider what you want the public to know about your company and the goal of the interview. Are you trying to relay key figures and facts about your company, for instance? By having a prepared set of statistics, you will come across as professional, confident, and knowledgeable.
Also, find out what kind of story the interviewer is trying to create. Identify what problem your business is solving and why it is important to discuss this with your interviewer. A little research preparation can go a long way in showing not only your professionalism but the professionalism of the brand itself as well.
2. Control the Conversation
Being interviewed or performing on camera is not a natural thing, especially since there may be multiple takes involved where you repeat yourself again and again. The benefit of this repetitive process is that you can hone your language and control the conversation. You want to make sure that this interview is the best use of your time possible.
If the interviewer is getting off-topic, try guiding them back with redirecting language or simply say you wish not to discuss that topic. If you’re asked multiple questions at once, try asking them to break each one down so that you can provide a more succinct and eloquent answer to each question.
Caught off-guard by a question? Remain calm, pause, take a deep breath, and relax. Often, you can avoid these types of questions through prep work with the interviewer. Make sure you go over certain questions and what is off-limits beforehand.
If you are blindsided, then try to keep your response short. Tell them you are not able to answer at this time or say that you may need to do more research before answering that question. It’s okay to show a little humility and say you don’t know something!
3. Be Aware of Your Body Language and Physical Appearance
Which person instills more confidence: the person who slouches and delivers answers with little excitement, or someone who sits upright and delivers swift, forceful answers? Body language is a huge part of the way we communicate, especially when you are on camera. Your goal is to give off a warm and welcoming disposition that will put the viewer at ease.
Smile during the interview, but don’t force it. Let it come naturally by putting yourself in a positive mind state. Remember, anxiety is similar to excitement if channeled properly.
Lean forward during the interview. This gives the impression that you are interested in discussing topics with the interviewer and may help you take up more of the camera view. It may feel uncomfortable to be so close, but the interview will come across differently on camera.
Sit up straight as much as you can. Good posture exudes confidence. Prepare well, know your stuff, and your confidence will naturally flow from good posture.
Another important thing to remember is that appearance can make or break your on-camera performance. The way you dress speaks to how you want to be perceived. Steve Jobs, for example, dressed in jeans and a black turtleneck during Apple events because he wanted to distinguish himself from the corporate suits you often see making product pitches.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing a suit. In fact, being professionally dressed can signal that you are someone to be taken seriously. Consider also that a relaxed interview may be time to bring out the business casual clothing.
The Bottom Line
Preparation is key to a successful on-camera performance. Actors spend significant amounts of time learning lines and fine-tuning their performances—you should be preparing your executives with the same amount of vigor.
Understand the interviewer’s perspective and why they’re interested in the conversation. Prepare statements, figures, and facts. Dress nicely, and avoid filler words (like “um,” etc.). And remember to relax! With enough solid preparation, you won’t have to worry.