Paula Rizzo is an Emmy-award winning TV producer, bestselling author, media trainer & strategist. Paula trains authors and experts to perform better on camera and produce their own videos.
Her most recent book is Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You.
What are the 3 most important things to do before (or during) a remote job or media interview?
- Practice the “Accordion Method.” You can’t do this enough. It shouldn’t matter what questions they ask you — you should be prepared with really great answers. The way to do this successfully is to use the “Accordion Method.” Every answer you give should have a short, medium and long version. So, depending on how much time you have, you’ll be able to give value. When thinking through your short answer, think like a newspaper editor. What headline would you give this answer to grab someone’s attention? It should be punchy, to the point and intriguing. Then you can follow with more details if you have time.
- Stop Looking At Yourself! When you’re recording a video or speaking to someone via Skype or Zoom Video, stop looking at yourself in selfie mode. It instantly disconnects you from the other person. If you are looking down or off to the side, it’s easy to lose interest and it’s difficult to make an impression or a connection that way. Instead, look directly into the camera. It’s awkward at first, but after a bit of practice it comes more easily. It may feel strange to not look at the person on the other end of the Zoom or Skype connection if you’re doing an in interview, but it looks so much better when you’re looking into the camera. That goes for any time you’re producing videos on doing a media interview.
- Smile! It may seem obvious, but it’s the thing that I nag my clients about the most. If you’re smiling, you’re inviting people to like you. It’s the one thing you should always do on camera and in the media. Start every sentence with a smile and it will put you and your interviewer at ease. It makes you accessible and likeable right off the bat.
Are there tricks to maintaining composure when faced with an unexpected or challenging/curveball question (since there’s a camera right on you)?
Pause. So often we want to jump right in and say something and fill the space, but that will lead to looking unprepared and thrown off. Instead of saying something you’ll regret, take a pause, compose yourself and then answer.
It’s a good idea to watch any previous videos and media interviews, so you can evaluate previous performance. That’s where we identify “filler words” like “um, so, you know.” It’s important to know if you use these words so you can simply pause when you’re about to say them going forward.
But also, it’s important to practice your answers. It shouldn’t matter what questions the interviewer asks you – you should have great answers.
What’s the best way to handle unforeseen noise or technical interruptions?
Keep going! As long as it’s not so distracting that it’s impossible to communicate keep going. But you can do a lot to make sure this doesn’t happen in advance. Pick a quiet location where you’ll have privacy. Also test out the equipment in advance. Whether it’s a microphone or a phone, be sure that everything is working so you’re not scrambling at the time of the meeting. Give yourself a 15-minute buffer before and after the meeting is scheduled so you’re not rushing.
What are the most common mistakes when leading a virtual presentation and how can they be avoided?
When you’re leading a webinar, remember that you’re talking to real people! So often presenters go into “drone mode” and forget to keep their personality going even if they’re not being seen. Be sure to keep up your enthusiasm up.
Also, while it’s great that more and more people are using Facebook Live these days to showcase their expertise, a lot of people use it as a place to virtually high-five viewers for tuning in. There’s a lot of stopping the content to say hello to new viewers. But, think about the replay. How will this look if someone is watching it later? It will be terribly annoying to watch a video that is interrupted constantly. In most cases people won’t continue watching if the video isn’t compelling enough.