How To Prepare Your Child Actor for Online Meetings

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Photo Source: Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Now that so much of the world’s business has shifted online, we must prepare children to learn how to present themselves in important online meetings in their casual home environment.

Through the last seven months and continuing on for the indefinite future, a majority of meetings are held online using video conferencing platforms like Zoom. These meetings could be interviews with talent representatives, callbacks, or producer’s sessions for casting purposes and even table reads once a job is booked. One of the challenges that face people, especially children, is the comfort and casual nature of being in their own home. There’s no one to impress with nicer clothing. There’s no waiting room to collect nerves. There’s not the same level of respect demanded or intimidation felt as the Zoom meetings can reduce the apparent importance of the meetings.

In order to succeed, we must make sure to adhere to the same standards as we would do if this were not online and in an office. Here are some tips and reminders.

1. Keep away distractions.
Make sure other family members are aware and cooperating when you and your child are in a Zoom meeting. There should be no interruptions from others. Keep the electronic distractions like televisions, radios, computers, and tablets off if you’re not using them. Keep pets occupied and quiet away from where you have your video meeting set up.

2. Use self-tape equipment.
To add to the aesthetic and professionalism of the meeting, you can use your self-tape set up. Have good lighting to reduce shadows and maintain full light on the face. Make sure there’s a plain clean background behind you. Set up your device to broadcast horizontally and wide enough to fit any participants that need to be present.

3. Present yourself appropriately.
Maintain the dress code you’d use to attend any meeting of importance, even if it’s from the waist up. Make a good impression with hygiene and be put together. Wash the kids’ faces and make sure everyone uses some chapstick or moisturizer on their lips.

4. Be prepared for the meeting.
If this is a callback, make sure your child actor is off-book and rehearsed. Follow the instructions sent by casting. Connect with the reader if in a scene. Make sure you are heard and in full view. If this is a general meeting or interview have a list of questions prepared as to not forget. Do your research on the parties involved. Keep the child engaged and doing their fair share of talking. Do not dominate the conversation as a parent.

5. Keep the children on task.
Make sure the children are prepared to answer questions. Maintain their focus and enthusiasm. Remember to always answer in complete sentences with an example, anecdote, or story attached. Check your sound prior to the meeting to ensure you’re all heard and that your microphone works. Do not forget to unmute yourself when in the meeting.

6. Use your manners.
The same socially acceptable manners are at play. Do not interrupt people. Always be sincere, genuine, and relaxed. Keep confidence even when you’re nervous. Be polite and use proper greetings even when a participant may have a casual name posted on their Zoom window. Stay focused and engaged. Ask questions if you’re confused or wanting more info. Infuse your personality and always aim to shine and give the best impression of yourself. Don’t let the kitchen or bedroom you’re actually in detract from the virtual meeting you’re in.

7. Departing a meeting.
Always thank the participants in the meeting for their time. Make sure the child is involved in that act of gratitude. Don’t linger in a meeting and keep your social cues on alert. When exiting a meeting, make sure that you’ve actually left and the program is closed before discussing what happened or making any comments about it.

8. Follow up.
It’s in good form to follow up on any meeting with a correspondence thanking them for taking their time to meet you. Send an email or direct message with a brief note the next day. Always include an attached headshot and link to the actor’s casting profile with video media and contact information.

It sounds like common sense to use these rules but many industry professionals have been frustrated or appalled by the lack of professionalism or distractions that arise in their online meetings. Our homes are where we feel comfortable and let our guard down. It’s wise to remind ourselves and your child actors to have the same poise and manners in an important meeting online wherever we may be virtually broadcasting from.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Corey Ralston
Corey Ralston is repping kids and young adults at Bohemia Group. He also runs a resource page for parents called Child Actor 101. Corey’s other 30 years of business experience includes being a former child actor, acting coach, headshot photographer, and theatre director. His varied and extensive experience in these facets of the Industry has prepared him to nurture and develop young actors.
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