Tips for appearing on TV via computer

Saturday, March 21, 2020
Are you a reporter or an interviewee planning a remote appearance on TV in the era of the coronavirus? Or are you a producer counseling a reporter or interviewee? Or are you just hangin’ remotely with friends, coworkers or family? With the help of video whiz Jim Parks, here are a few tips for making the best TV you can:

Look at the camera. If you have more than one screen, avoid looking like you’re staring off into the distance—at an extra screen. Make sure the window connecting you to the anchor is positioned as close as possible to the camera on your computer—not on an auxiliary screen. For most laptops, that means dragging the Google Hangouts / Skype / FaceTime window to the top of your computer screen. (Consider shrinking it to a size that forces you to stare at it right under the camera.)

Make sure your camera’s level with your eyes. Unless you think viewers enjoy looking up your nostrils, prop up your laptop (or whatever) on a dictionary or two so you’re looking at it levelly—not up or down.

Position yourself for the best lighting available. Avoid sitting with a bright window at your back. Better: Locate yourself so you’re illuminated by the window. If you’re in a room with no daylight, position yourself so the available light is on you and not behind you. Move lamps as necessary so your face isn't in shadow.

Sound as good as you can. Ideally, connect your computer to a high-quality microphone or headset; that becomes necessary to avoid feedback if you and another person are on separate devices in the same room. Try to use a room that has carpeting or rugs to suppress echoes. If you have no time to run tests before you go live, at least do what you can to position your mouth as close as practical to your computer’s onboard microphone. The further away you are, the more echoey and thin you’ll sound.

Have other suggestions? Share them in the comments below or email me (as Jim Parks did):

P.S. Or you can just do what my friend and colleague Stuart Hughes has done.

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