TV interview on home working v’s office: Face to face time is ace time

I  was invited to go on TV the other day.My blog post for ZDNet about yahoo’s no home working rule generated a lot of comments. I agreed with Yahoo’s decision to change the working condition for its 200 home workers and get them to come into the office.

I’ve worked from home regularly over the years – but I’ve never had to work entirely from home.  Some of my friends at HP are classed as home workers who never go into the office and they tell me they find it lonely and isolating.

I was asked to talk to Canada AM, which is Canadian Television Network (CTV’s) national morning show. I went into London for the interview – with 1/2mb at best, doing the interview over Skype would have been so painful.

Marci Len was the host for the piece, sitting in Toronto with Nitin Kawale, President of Cisco in Canada.

CTV have a studio in London with a TV camera to talk to the show. The camera was in a side room. I sat on a chair with my feet resting on a step stool. The backdrop of London was behind me. Unlike normal video conferencing I had no video feed into the room. My TV debut was a surreal experience.

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Sitting in the dark staring into a camera with no visual clues as to what was happening at the other end made for a really strange interview. Normally I can tell by watching body language, when it is appropriate to interject.  I could not see Marci’s nods and smiles. I had only an audio feed. I had to wait for direct questions to be asked.

I could not interrupt, my body language was hidden from view when Nitin spoke and the fact that i was not actually in the room in Toronto meant that i had much less opportunity to talk and contribute to the conversation.

In fact this experience gave me much less opportunity to virtually interact than web conferences usually do.  I felt out of the loop, isolated and out of touch with the discussion  — exactly the feelings that permanent remote workers feel without the experience of face time in the office.

I was not drawn into the conversation as much – in fact Nitin, in the studio got over twice the opportunity to state his views than I did. The lack of face to face connections made things incredibly difficult to really engage. This type of interview was so much harder than any telephone conference I’ve ever done – more so because it was on. TV.

Would I do another TV interview? Of course.  Would I prefer an ‘in studio introduction?’ heck yeah. But if I had to do another interview without any visual feedback at all, I’d make sure that I treated it just like a telephone call – and get the extra few sentences in that I really wanted to say!

Oh well, next time…

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.