Looking Good and Feeling Good… Virtually

Surprisingly, my new WFH life (that is, work from home) is going relatively well.  Though I despise the social distancing, my productivity has remained high (maybe even higher than before).  In fact, as I sit here preparing this post, I’m glancing over my schedule for the day.  It includes six meetings being hosted over the video conferencing platform, Zoom, which will comprise at least seven hours’ worth of conversation – all with video, as if we were together, in person.  Yesterday looked a lot like today though the platforms varied (e.g. GoToMeeting and WebEx factored in the mix).

This new normal, that is, meeting by video conference, has me thinking about online professional interactions and the way we come across to others.  As such, I thought I’d share a few tips for making a good virtual impression – even when you’re not sitting face-to-face with your contact.

  • Dress for Your Day.  I saw a funny meme last week.  It said, “It’s 9pm.  Time to change from daytime pajamas to nighttime pajamas!”  Well, that might work for weekends (I’m not so sure), but I don’t suggest it for your professional interactions – whether it’s a multi-person meeting, a webinar, or a virtual coffee with a friend.  By presenting yourself the way you would if we weren’t under a “stay at home” order, you will not only look professional, but you will also feel professional.  OK, ditch the skirt-and-heels or suit-and-tie, but run a comb through your hair, put on a little makeup, wear something that makes you feel like you mean business. 
  • Learn Your Technology.  Whether you use Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime or any other online platform, familiarize yourself with its capabilities.  Don’t fumble around with the technology when you are in the throes of an important conference.  The sooner you understand even the most basic functions like ensuring your video and audio are working properly, inviting others to join you, knowing how to share your screen, recording the meeting, using the chat feature, and the like, the sooner you will look like the pro you are!  Others will be impressed by your prowess, you will appear to have it together, and the effectiveness and efficiency of your meeting will skyrocket.  Oh… and get yourself a decent headset with a microphone.  You’ll be able to hear others better and it will help to lessen background noises and other distractions.
  • Select a Location.  In these days when our homes have become a combination of office, one-room schoolhouse, restaurant, and family gathering spot, it can be difficult to find a place of our own.  In anticipation of sitting on several video conference-based meetings throughout your day, identify a location in your home that works as your go-to spot for these types of interactions.  Be sure to check your background to ensure that you are easily seen and there are no distractions – you’ll want to choose a simple backdrop that is not backlit by a window or lamp so that you are not in the shadows.
  • Use Proper Etiquette.  Knowing that there may be many others on video with you, there are a few rules of basic decorum to keep in mind for polite virtual discussion.  They are things like a) mute your audio when you are not speaking, b) mute your video if you need to get up, talk with someone, care for the dog, eat, look at your mobile phone, etc. so that you are not disruptive to the conversation, and c) use hand signals to indicate you would like to ask a question or add to the conversation next – you can simply raise your hand to attract the speaker or leader’s attention.

Hey, I’m learning this right along with you.  Do you have other ideas or tips for looking good and feeling good by home-based video conference?  Please take a moment to share your thoughts at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com.

Be well.  Happy Networking!

4 thoughts to “Looking Good and Feeling Good… Virtually”

  1. Great Tips, Alana! I have been working in the collaboration, online meeting space for over 20 years and would love to share an additional tip with you and your audience: USE THE CHAT FEATURE FOR MORE THAN JUST A PLACE FOR PARTICIPANTS TO ASK QUESTIONS (ie: if meeting online with more than just 2 people in a training, presentation or virtual networking session). As the host of the meeting- here are 2 of my favorite ways to use chat:
    – As an icebreaker exercise at the beginning of the meeting . For example: ask your audience to Chat where they are from, or ask them to chat one word describing themselves using the 1st letter of their name.
    – Periodically during the meeting to check for engagement. For example: ask for feedback during your presentation – like: “The 1st person who gives me an example of how I would use this last point I just went over gets a Starbucks’s gift card!” or “Who will use this idea once off this meeting?”
    Hope you liked my tips! The company I work for is PGi and our Solution is GlobalMeet – we provide virtual meeting solutions to over 45,000 companies worldwide including 75% of the Fortune 100 Companies and have been in this space for over 28 years. If you or any of your followers are interested, here is the link to our Freemium GlobalMeet Version (up to 125 people per call allowed and no time limit per meeting)

    (get it free at https://www.pgi.com/sign-up/)

    1. This is AWESOME, Dana! Thank you for the wonderful tips and for the valuable gift for the CLC community. I will check out PGi’s GlobalMeet myself. Stay safe.

  2. A Bizwomen.com reader, Marilynn Barber, made this suggestion: “Please, sit your computer on a stack of books so the camera is at your eye level, don’t make people look up your nose. Ick. And use your cellphone camera reversed to ‘see’ what your background looks like to clean up whatever too-personal items are in behind you.” Thanks, Marilynn! Great recommendations.

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