At the risk of stating the obvious, we are living in extraordinary times.

When whole countries have effectively shut down, millions of workers are facing the dole queue, and airlines have been grounded, it sure is not business as usual.

It’s no different with media.

Most journalists across Australia are now working from home, just like most office workers. And television stations are doing interviews only on line, forcing CEOs and senior executives to come to grip with the whacky world of Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.

The results have been mixed, to say the least – from poor Internet connections and jerky video to standing way too close to the laptop camera, it’s a whole new world when it comes to body language and media engagement.

So, here are five simple tips to follow when doing your next media interview online.

Find the right room – and watch out for background.

It’s important to find a room that is both comfortable and especially, quiet. It should become your new studio, so, make sure it is as soundproof as possible (lock the door!), and that the lighting is as good as possible (open the curtains or flick on the light). Then comes the hard part: ask the rest of the family to keep it down for a few minutes.

Background? A blank wall is best. But if not possible, ensure there is nothing distracting in the background, such as confidential sales charts, inappropriate posters or personal photographs. Just imagine you are being interviewed in your office at work. Same rules apply.

Don’t get too close to the camera.

Depending on the type of interview, stay a reasonable distance from the camera and check that this works for the interviewer at the other end. What’s reasonable? Check the screen. If you can see your pores, you are too close. Try this before the interview.

Look straight into the camera.

Yes, this can be uncomfortable. The temptation is to look at the screen but it’s important when being interviewed remotely (as it is when interviewed in a studio), to keep direct eye contact with the interviewer.  In this case, they are behind that little camera hole on top of your laptop, or your tablet.

Body language – it matters.

A media interview is as much about what you say and how, as it is about how you look. No different when you are being interviewed from home.

So, sit well on a comfortable (but not too comfortable) chair. Sit forward a little from the back of the chair so you don’t slouch. Plant both your feet firmly on the ground and please, no swivel chairs.

Also be aware of your hands. By all means use your hands if that is what you do naturally but make sure you don’t knock off the laptop or tablet.

And slow down a tad. Work on your pace. A steady and slower pace helps to convey calmness and is much easier for a broader audience to understand. If possible, lift your voice a little, too, as the inbuilt microphones on most laptops or tablets are well below studio quality.

Dress the part.

It’s tempting to throw on a pair of old trackies and faded t-shirt while you are working from home, but don’t forget: this is television and you are being interviewed because you have something to say; and because you are speaking on behalf of your shareholders, your staff and your customers. So, look the part. Watch out for busy stripes or loud outfits. Avoid bracelets or earrings that are noisy or distracting – and if you are a bloke, leave that hilarious Mickey Mouse tie in the cupboard.

In short, you may not need to dress as if you are about to chair a Board meeting but think about what you would wear to meet say, a potential employee.

One more thing …

Don’t get distracted. It’s easy to do at the best of times but especially when you are working from home. Before the interview make sure your Internet is working correctly, that the microphone works properly, and disable all notifications on your laptop and devices, especially your mobile phone.

Good luck!