Happy New Year to all! May this year be one of success and wellness! Many of you may have made a personal resolution or two to accomplish this year – I have as well. One of my resolutions is to help you enhance your professional presence and provide a platform where you can discover your personal brand in order to put your best foot forward in all areas of your life. Each month, we will discuss various topics via e-zine to develop your professional presence. I encourage you to provide me with feedback and allow me to support you in discovering how to strengthen your personal brand and accomplish getting that job, client, promotion or raise this year!
With the New Year comes new technologies and differing structures within organizations. Many of you may have or will experience video conferencing as a means of effective communication. Although, FaceTime and Skype may be more convenient and seemly less informal there are still many tricks to the trade that you should implement in order to maintain your professionalism.
As an example, I was talking with a business associate recently and she described the most unfavorable video conference experience during an interview session. The top candidate completely submarined the interview. Not because of what she said but because of how she looked, how her environment looked and her actions. This made me realize that technology is demanding that we continue to hone our high-tech etiquette skills. The following are tools and tips to maintain your professionalism while video conferencing:
- Think Outside Your Screen: Consider how the background looks behind you being that you may not always be in an office. Do you have a blank wall or an impressive book case behind you or a poster of your favorite band or childhood heart throb? Does the background reflect positivity and professionalism? Be aware of windows and unfavorable lights casting a glare as to not distort the image that others are viewing. Also, assure that pets, children, and/or other uninvited guests are not interfering with your meeting. Finally, be sure to turn off all electronic devices.
- Speaking of the Screen: The height of the camera is vital to your successful video conference. When your webcam is aimed at you from a lower angle it can be very unflattering. Before the meeting, set your computer up so that the camera is approximately at eye level or slightly above. Good lighting is important as FaceTime and Skype accentuates shadows on the face, natural light is always best. Dim lighting will make you appear grainy. Also, you do not want to sit too close to the camera/screen.
- Be Aware of Multitasking During Conferencing: Some may think that one of the advantages of video conferencing is the ability to multitask and perform computer related activities while on the call. Sometimes this may be appropriate, if you are working with a team. Just remember, if it is not appropriate, depending on the placement of your computer’s microphone, the sound of your typing can be quite loud for the person(s) you are speaking to. Unless you are on “mute,” please be careful! Not to mention, the position of your camera will likely pick-up your activity.
- What to Wear: The rule of thumb is, if you are having an interview or a meeting, dress as you would if you were having the meeting in person. Do not make the mistake of only dressing your top half as you never know when you will have to get up and grab something across the room! Being appropriately dressed will also put you in the right mindset and help you feel more professional. Busy patterns should also be avoided as they can translate differently on various screens – stripes are better than polka dots. Just as you would if you were having a headshot taken, wear a color that flatters your features and skin tone; although, it is recommended to stay away from colors that are too bright.
Note: If you are unaware of the color palette that best suits you, I would be happy to determine what it is with you during your personalized brand assessment and color analysis. Please contact me for further information.
- Posture and Body Language Matter: You may be more inclined to sit more relaxed because you are not seated at a conference table. However, proper posture, sitting up straight, will say a lot about you and portray confidence verses a slouching stature. You will also appear more attentive and engaged, not bored and uninterested. Also, be aware of not fidgeting (i.e. tapping your pen/fingers, playing with your hair/ears, picking your nails/cuticles, doodling, and/or looking around). All of these behaviors will send an unfavorable message about you. If you have a tendency to gesture with your hands in front of your face, sit on your hands. In a video conference you want them to see your face the entire time making generous eye contact as you would in a face-to-face meeting.
- Makeup Tricks: Skype experts actually advise women to wear a high-definition foundation, which will create a soft-focus effect in any kind of lighting and blu ray high definition matifier which refines lines and minimizes pores. The cosmetic store, Sephora, carries Cargo blu ray Bronzer Medium and Makeup Forever (only sold at Sephora) has an array of products including High Definition foundation and concealer.
Our success in business is multi-dimensional. Our technical knowledge and how we present ourselves are both equally important to being successful. When your appearance and actions are in sync with your presentation or message, you will be 100% effective and impressive!