20/08/2020

Doing interviews: with a mouth mask or without?

Media relations Training & Coaching

Over the past few weeks, we’ve regularly been asked by clients who’ve had to face a TV crew in the wake of a successful press campaign: do I wear a mouth mask for the interview, or not? After all, such a mask hides important non-verbal communication that adds nuances to your statements. The answer to the mouth mask question is not a straightforward one, but we’re happy to help you find the best solution.

Consumer-related messages

Do you step forward with a consumer-focused message, like Neckermann did while standing among the hurdle of travellers at Brussels Airport, on the first day of summer holidays? Then wear a mouth mask during the interview. What you demand of your customers, partners and employees, you have to do yourself. It’s as simple as that.

Sharing expertise

Sometimes you can also be put forward as an expert commenting on a broader item and the TV crew has chosen an outdoor location that illustrates the atmosphere of the item or emphasizes your neutrality. Or a location inside of an empty building. Think, for example, of the empty offices where an expert from Acerta recently explained how many days off the Belgians took in the corona crisis. Then you don’t have to wear a mouth mask. Unless, of course, the (local) government has decided otherwise (e.g. when standing on a seawall) or the interviewer asks for it out of concerns for his own safety and that of his crew.

Don’t compensate with exagerrated hand gestures

A mouth mask hides your non-verbal communication, with which you normally express certain emotions and nuances: joyfullness, seriousness, surprise, disappointment,… Sometimes you are tempted to try and compensate this communication with exaggerated hand gestures. Try to avoid this. Hand gestures do help in a communication. But exaggerated gesticulating is especially disturbing. If necessary, try to put more emotion in your verbal message. This can be done by naming an emotion: ‘Of course we are very happy…’, ‘We still feel disappointment within the sector’,….

Branding the mouth mask?

Some will be tempted to put some branding on the mouth mask, but we don’t recommend that. Usually the journalist won’t like it, so you inadvertently create less goodwill for future interviews. Moreover, it is disturbing for the viewer, exactly the one you want to reach with your message. Only popular brands, such as football clubs or festivals, get away with it. In fact, the masks are even sold to fans.

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