Tips for Looking Professional During Video Conferences
Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, RingCentral Video, FaceTime, Skype — whatever your preferred platform is for professional video conferencing, many of us are now interfacing online. Whether you are using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, we’ve compiled some best practices to help you make a professional impression and look your best during virtual work meetings, interviews, networking events and online social gatherings.
In real estate, the most important attribute is location, location, location. For video conferences, good light is by far the most important component to consider for online interfacing. Your camera will automatically seek out light sources. Having light behind the camera illuminates what is in front of the camera-you.
The ideal is a window in front of your computer, phone or tablet that provides diffused natural light. If you are on a device that is mobile, find a room that is well lit and position yourself in front of a window. If this isn’t possible, place a light or lights behind your device that shine toward you without being overly harsh. Ring lights are a fantastic lighting tool but desk lamps can also work well if properly positioned. If you have a window to one side of you, hang a white sheet on the opposite side to reflect light and remove unwanted shadows.
- Find a room or location with diffused natural light in front of you
- Use a ring light or other lighting source, placing it behind your camera
- Use white surfaces to reflect light and minimize shadows
- Sit with a window or lighting behind you-this will make you appear
- Have direct light on your face-this will wash you out or create unflattering dark shadows
The perfect placement for your camera is straight on or slightly higher. You want to be looking directly into the screen rather than looking up or down. There is a “sweet spot” where you to fill a significant portion of the screen without appearing too far away or overly close. Watch that you appear to have background objects “growing” out of your head or that you are cutting off the top of your head.
- Position your computer or phone so that the camera is level or slightly higher than your sight line
- Bring the camera closer so you fill 75% to 80% of the screen
- Maintain good posture
- Have the camera too low (looking down) or too high (craning your neck)
- Fill too much of the screen-feels like an invasion of space to others
- Sit so far back that you appear distant
You don’t need a special microphone to have decent sound on a video meeting. Again, having the camera positioned close enough to pick up your voice is important as is being in a space that allows for minimal outside noises. Be sure to speak up so the mic can properly detect and transmit your voice. Minimize potential for unwanted noise and interruptions.
- Close your door, window, silence your phone
- Place a sign on the door when in meetings to alert others in household
- Speak slowly, clearly and louder than you would normally
- Have pets in the room during meetings
- Be in an open space or outside as this causes an influx of extraneous background noise
- Talk so loud it comes across as yelling
Not everyone may have a dedicated home office space but it is preferable to have meetings in a room that has a somewhat professional appearance. A clean, clutter-free area with good lighting minimizes visual disruption. Turn off ceiling fans and televisions as the movement will be distracting to others.
- Declutter the area that can be seen by the camera
- Use a virtual background (Zoom is a platform that allows this) if you must be in a location that could be distracting
- Place yourself against a blank wall if possible
- Have a lot of clutter behind you that can be seen by others
- Allow pets or other people walk “through” your meeting
- Have any movement from ceiling fans, TVs, etc.
Especially when engaged in work meetings, it is still important to make a good impression. You want to appear vibrant, alert and put together. Put on makeup, style your hair, shave and wear something that looks professional. Though we’ve all seen the memes about meeting goers wearing a nice blouse or button-down shirt and sloppy pajama bottoms, unexpected things do occur. Be sure to wear pants or leggings that, should something happen, you will not be embarrassed if your coworkers or clients see you.
- Spend time on your appearance-shave, style hair, put on makeup
- Wear a top that looks professional
- Maintain good posture
- Slouch or slump in your chair
- Neglect your appearance
- Wear pants or bottoms that would cause embarrassment if they’re seen
OTHER TIPS FOR PROFESSIONAL VIDEO CONFERENCING
One of the best things you can do is practice in advance. Once you’ve located the best possible lighting and positioned your camera, find a friend who will hold a short meeting with you and critique the sound, camera angle and point out and distracting background elements. If you have the capability to record the session, watch it and assess all of the elements, making adjustments as needed. Much of the same etiquette applies virtually as in person. If you wouldn’t do something in a face to face meeting, odds are it is also not appropriate in a virtual one.
- Stay attentive during meetings
- Watch your body language and facial expressions
- Minimize movement and maintain good posture
- Mute yourself when you are not talking
- Avoid talking over others by raising your hand to talk
- Chew gum or eat
- Adjust your camera unless absolutely necessary
- Text or take a phone call unless urgent
- Get up and walk away unless urgent. (Turn off your video if you must do so.)
Virtual meetings are now a vital source of conducting business and keeping connected socially. By focusing on good lighting and sound, the environment, proper etiquette and that just-right camera angle, we can enhance first impressions as well as productivity and professionalism.