We’re used to seeing people being interviewed in glossy TV studios, or on location with the best cameras and microphones available. The content, as long as it was filmed and edited by a professional crew, looked ‘highly produced’ and professional.

What we’re seeing and hearing now has completely changed: instead of the best possible camera and sound kit, people have their laptop camera or a webcam; instead of seeing CEOs in a sharp suit in their boardroom, we’re seeing them sitting at home in a makeshift office wearing casual clothes.

The optics have completely changed and, given we may have to socially distance for many months to come, there isn’t going to be a swift return to how we are used to seeing spokespeople on television. And while the public is naturally being forgiving about wobbly wifi connections on air, there is still a consequence for those who conduct interviews virtually without the right training. Without the right camera angle, lighting and background, spokespeople can look unprofessional or awkward. And more than ever, spokespeople need to be clear about what they want to say in an interview and how to say it, even in response to tough business questions while staring into a laptop camera.

Care Minister, Helen Whately, recently found out the consequences of not being virtually media trained. Many of us will have seen the picture of her laughing on GMB next to a shot of presenter Piers Morgan holding up a newspaper headline about 4,000 people dying in care homes. Those who watched the interview will know Whately was laughing out of frustration that she couldn’t see what Morgan was holding up. But the resulting image – widely circulated in the media and online – looked like she was laughing at the fact 4,000 people had died in care homes. Morgan has been criticised for the tone and approach of the interview, but that picture will live online forever.

We’re playing by a different set of rules now when it comes to giving media interviews, and this extends to chairing a virtual meeting or giving a virtual presentation. We can support executives in mastering the new rules, which may last long after COVID-19 has passed. For more information, contact Director of Training, Louise Hannah, at louise.hannah@hkstrategies.com