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!