You must have seen this video of a South Korean expert whose interview on BBC World News was interrupted by his two children
Robert E Kelly was being questioned about the forced departure of the country’s president when his young daughter opened the office door and wandered in.
She walked over to Mr Kelly who, eyes fixed on the camera, gently pushed her away while continuing the interview.
That was not the end of it, however.
A baby then made an even more dramatic entrance in a walker.
He was followed by Mr Kelly’s horrified wife who slid into the room and set about removing the unwitting intruders.
Fortunately, presenter James Menendez saw the funny side of it all.
He tweeted: “Hard to keep a straight face”, adding: “It was the desperate reach for the door at the end that nearly did it for me…”
I was reminded of the incident by a female colleague who had earlier taken part in a group video call.
One of the participants was a young man who had a picture of a naked woman – yes, a naked woman – hanging on the wall behind him.
Luckily, my colleague was the only one to notice and decided not to say anything in case it became an unwanted distraction and valuable time was wasted.
But what if the young man had been giving a TV interview or had been talking to a senior manager? The chances are there would have been hell to pay.
The incident was another timely reminder of the perils of video calls and the need to check there are no distractions in the background or possible interruptions.
This is especially important for live broadcast interviews, which are increasingly being conducted via Skype and other VoiP services.
Mr Kelly got away with it because he handled the situation well and there was obviously no disrespect intended – and the children’s arrival was by universal agreement hilarious.
But if it happens to you, the chances are you won’t be so lucky and your personal reputation and that of your organisation will be damaged.
So, before and during video calls, here’s a list of things to do to avoid embarrassment and possibly worse:
:: Switch off your phone – you don’t want it ringing during the interview
:: Close the door and lock it if needs be, so no-one can come in
:: Make sure you have a tidy background with no distractions which reflects your position
:: Don’t have a window as a background because of the glare
:: Raise your screen to eye height, so you’re not looking down – prop it on books if it’s too low
:: Dress appropriately, make sure your hair is neat and tidy
:: Look directly at the camera, don’t shout or wave your arms around
:: Don’t get up immediately the interview is over – wait in silence until you’re given the all clear.
If you’d like some help with video interviews, or other types of broadcast interview, we can help. We have over 20 years’ experience of media training spokespeople and experts. Give us a call on 020 8332 6200 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.