how-to-guides

3 steps for successful on-camera interviews

So, your media strategy worked, and now you’ve got an on-camera interview coming up next week with a major TV morning show. It’s one of those make-or-break interviews that could take your company to the next level.

Only problem is, you’re petrified going in front of the camera.

Having that cold optic lens staring at you–with millions of eyeballs watching in the virtual netherworld beyond–can be intimidating. Even for non-shrinking violets, it’s still a good idea to practice and keep your skills sharp.

On Camera

We polled AlleyWire’s 40-member team of on-camera and behind-the-scenes veterans to see just what makes for a great on-camera interview.

What we found is a glib little alphabet soup system we call C-A-P: (C)ontent, (A)ppearance, (P)ersonality. 

(C)ontent

The comedian (or is it comedienne when he’s an executive transvestite?) Eddie Izzard once joked that singing the U.S. national anthem is “70 percent how you look, 20 percent how you sound and 10 percent what you say…” And he’s not all that wrong.

Get Your Points to Get to the Point 

Getting in front of the camera and blabbing on and on with no point, will simply get you nowhere. Indeed, it’s worked for countless Kardashians and other reality stars, but you’ve only got a few minutes or even seconds to tell a story and make an impression.

So, take some time to figure out your talking points. DO NOT script yourself. It will come across as stilted, and unnatural, and a big turnoff.

Make a list of the points you want to hit, perhaps using a mnemonic device (e.g. C-A-P), and you’ll be able to hit each of those in a timely fashion.

And believe it or not, once you get going, you really will forget the cameras are there.

You’re a domain expert, it’s why you’re being interviewed–rely on yourself and your own wit, and you’ll be amazed at how it all comes together.

Try and hook the audience with something shocking, sassy, sexy whatever at the top, and then try to end on a high note a la George Costanza. Saying too much is just as bad as saying too little.

There is a Style to Content

Think about how you’re presenting what you’re saying, keep your answers short and pithy if possible. 30 seconds tops. And make sure it’s a complete thought…

Don’t suffer yourself to say uhs and ums if you can avoid it…any kind of verbal crutch (e.g. “likes,” “you knows”) are truly annoying.

If your interviewer asks a question, really pay attention. Don’t start formulating your answer in advance, or you may not answer the question, then you all look awkward.

And above all, have fun! It’s not every day you get to be on TV, enjoy the experience!

(A)ppearance

As Mr. Izzard reminds us, 70% is how you look. So, take the time to dress the part. It’s not 1965, so you don’t need a suit and tie or formal debutante dress.

A Few Simple Rules of Style: 

You can come in your comfortable attire that truly reflects who you are. But, there are a few simple rules you should know:

1) SHADES OF — Stay away from black and white, as these colors tend to washout on camera–bold shades and jewel tones tend to pop more–if you’re going in front of a green or blue screen, don’t wear those colors

2) STRIPES — Avoid really obvious stripes, most cameras will make them look wavy or out of focus

3) BUSY PATTERNS — The same goes for really busy patterns, they just distract, but good textures can be effective

4) PERSONAL ICONOGRAPHY — If you want to give yourself a bit of personal touch or personal brand, a great pocket square or piece of statement jewelry can be useful. If you’re going to appear on camera regularly, you can go for something that eventually may become “iconic.” Think of Larry King’s suspenders or Steve Jobs’ turtlenecks

5) MAKEUP — Both men and women should wear makeup–for ladies, too much eyeliner can make you look sleepy on camera—for men, you just need liquid and/or powder foundation, under-eye concealer and good hair…no rouge or bronzer.

Your Body:

Use your hands to articulate your points. Having them sitting at your sides will make you look like Mary Katherine Gallagher from SNL. You can use your head as well, but try to keep that relatively stationary and all movement necessary—no gratuitousness here. Cross your legs as you feel comfortable…if you have ticks or fidget…stop it…just stop it.

Make certain to “lean in” when speaking. Sit on the edge of your seat. Don’t sit back and look too relaxed, you’ll come across as disengaged.

No, the camera doesn’t add 10 pounds, but in the world of all-HD, it is much less forgiving to both double-chins and skin flaws.

*A special note when wearing a jacket–always keep it buttoned when sitting, especially behind a desk (I know this goes against style conventions), and actually sit on the tail of the coat if you can to help keep straight lines. 

(P)ersonality

So now we get to that final piece of the puzzle, the 20% of “how you sound.”

Be True to Thy Self 

Of course you should come across with your honest personality: Be fun and entertaining if that’s who you are—don’t try to push across comedy if you’re not funny.

Don’t think an audience will admire you more by trying to “sound smart.” Keep it simple, and keep your audience in mind.

And FYI, people don’t mind seeing you a little nervous; it’s cute and endearing. Alternatively, confidence, not arrogance, comes across nicely.

Bring the Energy 

One of the most important things to remember is that what you think of as “energy” and “enthusiasm” in your normal life will come across as flat and VERY 2-D on camera.

So, without being Robin-Williams-on-speed level manic, it’s very important to bring as much energy as you reasonably can. If you think you’re being too energetic, you’re not.

People that appear on-camera regularly have a “camera” personality that is an equilibrium between genuine and really “popping.” Watch a Ryan Seacrest or Giuliana Rancic.

Do remember, while brining an abundance of energy, you need to speak slowly enough to be understood—nervous people speak too quickly, and then half of what you say is missed.

Above all, don’t forget to smile!

In Closing:

So to review:

C: Say something meaningful, and be prepared

A: Dress with your own style and remember the “rules”

P: Have fun and bring the energy!

If you need any coaching, feel free to contact me directly at neil@alleywire.com. We’re always happy to help!

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founded-by-women

10 Female Founders on Celebrating Small, Yet Mighty Wins

Last Friday, our Founded by Women campaign came to a close. To keep the inspiration flowing into the new month (and perhaps because we’re bad at goodbyes), we’ve gathered these beloved founders in the WeWork community—from as far away as Berkeley and Berlin—to ask them one final question.

Question: It’s easy to recognize a company’s big wins, but what are some of the smaller things that are important to celebrate? 

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Meucci: a New Messaging Service That’s ‘All About People Connecting’

In this series, WeWork’s director of digital community selects a WeWork member to get to know better, sharing her fun findings with the rest of the community.  

I recently heard about Meucci, a messaging service that unites all platforms, from Skype to traditional phone calls to FaceTime. And it uses minimal bandwidth, meaning you won’t lose that call when you’re in transit. To find out more about Meucci, I spoke with its CEO, Rubi Kizner, who’s based out of Israel’s WeWork Herzliya office space. How is Meucci different from Skype or WhatsApp? What is the story behind the company’s name? You’ll just have to read on.

So tell us a little bit more about yourselves and about Meucci.

Meucci is essentially the same thing as Skype or WhatsApp, but with three main differences. It is making calls, or group calls, but you don’t need to have an active internet connection to make the call—it is GSM and totally free. Secondly, you have unlimited amounts of people that can be on the same call, and thirdly, the other party doesn’t have to be on the same app—so if you want to make a call between a WhatsApp member, a FaceTime member, or a Skype member, you have to ensure the other side will have the same app on their device, which is not the case with Meucci. So we are changing the ways that people make their own conversation. If I ask you the way you want to make a call to any other person, you can just dial the number. That’s it.

The reason we chose the name Meucci is if I would ask you who invented the telephone, most people would say Alexander Graham Bell. We found out that 30 years before Alexander Graham Bell, a poor immigrant doctor, Antonio Meucci from Italy, invented the telephone. The federal court in the United States recognized in 2008 that Antonio Meucci was the real inventor of the phone, but they did not delete Alexander Graham Bell’s name from the registration for the design of the telephone. They simply added his name.

What inspired you to create Meucci? Did you see a lot of need for this type of calling service?

The reason we created Meucci is all of us were using WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and the best things about them were they were free and easy to use. But they all have problems. The main problem is you have to make sure you have a good internet connection, which means I can’t use them while I’m cycling, driving, anything with movement at all—even walking. And second of all, the availability—if I want to call you, I have to make sure you have the same platform installed. So there are obstacles to using these cool services. That’s exactly what pushed us to find a solution that will eliminate all these prerequisites. So that as long as you have a cellular connection, you can make a call.

We were inspired by WhatsApp—we saw the huge benefit of having group chats. The need is there. So we wanted to make that possible. Instead of just chatting with those groups, you can now make any type of group, as many as you want, and simply with a single tap, you can store and make calls to these groups.

What sort of feedback have you gotten from people thus far?

Well, we’ve been available for only a few weeks, and we already have amazing traction. We are growing in over 60 countries already. We have currently over 33 percent of our users who’ve registered being active—triple the market standard!

Anything else we should know about you?

One of the VCs in our company here is the same person behind Yo and Mobli. Just having that ability to make change at a worldwide scale is what attracted him to our product. We see the opportunity by being able to provide an easy service that solves such a big problem that we all have. I think that’s why they decided to back it up. Another one of our backing founders is the creator of JDate. So it’s really all about people connecting.

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founded-by-women

From Opposite Coasts, Argent Founders Come Together to Dress Working Women

At eight years old, Eleanor Turner already had her “lifelong dream” figured out. During a road trip up the East Coast with her grandparents, the Lynchburg, Virginia native had a blast drawing the people she saw, focusing mostly on what they were wearing.

After the trip ended, her curiosity about clothing continued: she used leftover fabric from her mother’s swatch library when playing with her Barbie dolls.

“Hey, you can actually do that for a living,” someone told her. “You can be a fashion designer.”

“I can get paid to do this? Cool!” thought Turner.

From Opposite Coasts, Argent Founders Come Together to Dress2

“In my eight-year-old mind, I was like, ‘Yes, that’s what I want to do,’” says Turner, now 30. “And I followed it through.”

After receiving a degree in fashion design from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Turner moved to New York, where she put her design chops to the test at “very fast-paced” and “super inspiring” brands like J.Crew, Tory Burch, Tommy Hilfiger, and Isaac Mizrahi.

 

And then in 2014, Sali Christeson entered the picture.

“She’ll always say it was destiny or fate,” says Turner of how Christeson claims they met. “We met through a mutual friend, and that mutual friend always gets mad when she says it.”

Given that Christeson—with a background in business administration—is based in San Francisco, it was over the phone that she first told Turner about wanting to start a women’s work apparel company.

“Sali will always say that women are judged by what they wear, and that can totally affect your career trajectory,” Turner explains.

A year later, this issue continued to trouble the duo. So while Christeson was in New York for a few meetings, she and Turner decided to finally meet in person.

From Opposite Coasts, Argent Founders Come Together to Dress3

“I saw an opportunity to do something about it, and to actually help women, and solve problems with clothes, as opposed to just designing another garment,” says Turner. “I saw an opportunity to really innovate. And not just with clothes either—with branding as well, to connect to the millennial consumer that really hasn’t been spoken to. And gosh, how can you turn that down?”

Founded in 2015, Argent is the go-to guide for any woman who’s overwhelmed or confused by how to dress appropriately and confidently for work. Argent has its own line of stylish blazers, tops, pants, dresses, and jumpsuits, most of them made in Manhattan. The website breaks down dress codes into four styles, from casual to formal—depending on your profession—using Pinterest boards as a helpful visual tool.

“That was one of the biggest things that we noticed in our early research: sales people don’t ask you what you do,” says Turner. “Most people don’t need a suit anymore. Some people do, but the landscape of working environments is changing more than ever. If you’re in tech and you can wear denim, then hey—we’ll help you style it back to your favorite pair of jeans. If you’re a lawyer and you have to wear a suit every day, we’ll help you put that together too.”

From Opposite Coasts, Argent Founders Come Together to Dress4

While Turner focuses on designing the garments in New York, Christeson runs the business from San Francisco, where a showroom will be soon be set up at WeWork California St.

“And that’s actually why I think our partnership is so special,” says Turner. “Because we cover very different areas. In fact, we took a personality test that showed we are exact opposites. The woman who administered the test gave us a little breakdown…It was funny because she just wrote at the top of the email, ‘Wow, if you guys have gotten this far, this is a match made in heaven.’”

Though Argent is all about focusing on the needs of the modern working woman, inspiration for the brand and its name harkens back to important men in the founders’ lives.

Christeson’s great grandfather had a lumber company in South Carolina called Argent Mills.

Since “argent” stands for “silver” or “money” in French, says Turner, “We felt like it was a really strong, interesting name that parallels, ‘Hey, you’re a working woman. You’re making money.’ Also, we just loved the tie of short, easy to pronounce, top of the alphabet. If we’re on any kind of list, we’re usually at the top, so it’s kind of awesome.”

From Opposite Coasts, Argent Founders Come Together to Dress5

Turner’s great grandfather—an entrepreneur in the textile industry—was married to Lucile Barrow Turner, a well-known gospel singer who regularly performed on NBC.

“Because she was a woman before her time,” says Turner, “my great grandfather was credited with hiring more women than any of the other pre-WWII factories in the South.”

Looking back on her family history of resilient women and supportive men, Turner says, “I was raised to believe I could do anything as a female.”

Photos: Lauren Kallen

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At Global Press Institute, Cristi Hegranes Empowers Women Around the World

Cristi Hegranes has plenty of reasons to celebrate. This year, the organization she founded, the Global Press Institute, marks its 10th anniversary. It’s been winning numerous awards, including a $1.25 million grant from the prestigious MacArthur Foundation.

“It’s an exciting moment,” says Hegranes, who is dedicated to training female journalists. “It really marks our organization’s transition from adolescence to maturity.”

But Hegranes, based at San Francisco’s WeWork Golden Gate, is not the type to rest on her laurels. She’s used the opportunity to organize a San Francisco gallery show of photos from Global Press Institute journalists located around the world, including Mexico, Nepal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She also gathered her staff from around the world for the first time. That means regional editors arriving in Washington, D.C. from as far away as Colombo, Sri Lanka and Nairobi, Kenya. These people had worked together for years, but finally they were in the same room.

At Global Press Institute, Cristi Hegranes Empowers Women Around the World2

That’s a lot, right? But Hegranes and her staff are also putting together a strategic plan for 2020. Getting a huge grant is great, but they want to ensure that their mission—empowering women journalists—can continue.

Hegranes, a journalist whose jobs have included serving as a foreign correspondent in Nepal, founded the Global Press Institute when she was 25. Her goal was to provide education and training for women so they can become journalists in their own countries.

“When we started 10 years ago, the world said you couldn’t take women with no prior experience and turn them into investigative reporters,” says Hegranes. “We’ve demonstrated thousands of time that that’s exactly what we can do.”

The Global Press Institute is the training arm of the organization. More than 165 women from 26 countries have been trained to become journalists. Because many of the women only have a primary or secondary school education, all of them go at their own pace. That means the training takes anywhere from six months to three years.

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“We can take women anywhere in the world from a variety of educational and economic backgrounds and turn them into ethical and independent journalists,” says Hegranes.

All the graduates of the training program are offered jobs at the Global Press Journal, the online publication. Their work is syndicated through the Global Press News Service. The women are paid to report from their own countries, writing about issues that go unreported in the mainstream press or the state-sponsored media.

As a success story, Hegranes proudly points to Merveille Kavira Luneghe, a reporter from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“She’s literally the only journalist in the territory,” says Hegranes. “The stories she is telling are dramatic, important, and really make a difference.”

She has reported about how kidnappings have become shockingly common is the province of North Kivu, and about how one local woman with a genetic condition that leaves her body unable to produce pigment beat discrimination by brewing an exceptional beer.

Hegranes says that safety is a big concern, since many of the women report from dangerous areas. The staff checks in with all reporters regularly, making sure they are safe.

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Hegranes says that for Luneghe, the fact that she has become well known for her work helps keep her secure.

“She tells me her biggest complaint is that she’s too famous,” says Hegranes. “Her phone never stops ringing.”

As GPI moves forward after 10 years, one of the things Hegranes is most proud of is putting female journalists to work.

“We do crazy things like pay all our journalists a really good living wage, health insurance, and travel stipends,” says Hegranes. “Our aim is to make sure all our people are well compensated. It’s a really rare thing, especially when you’re employing women in the developing world.”

Photos: Sarah Gerber

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