Although we’re going back to the office, a lot of our communication will still be done via video conferencing. So, knowing how to make a good impression in the online world is as important as for face-to-face meetings.
We’re all so used to video calls that we may be starting to let our standards slip. Whether you’re presenting online; interviewing; leading a team meeting; networking…it’s essential that you come across as enthusiastic, genuine, and confident.
Here are some tips to help you make a good impression in the online world:
Check your framing – don’t sit so close to your camera so that your face is in their face! Try and get your face central and in the top half of the screen. This ensures your body language can be seen in the bottom half, so that all-important body language can still play its role.
Camera at eye level – most people have this too low, which isn’t flattering and looks unprofessional. Get a stack of books/the breadbin/a music stand – whatever you need to bring the camera up so you can look into it straight-on.
Make eye contact….by not looking at your listener! The opposite of face-to-face interaction; if you look at their image on the screen, you’ll look like you’re looking away from them from their side of the camera. You need to make sure their first view of you is looking straight into the camera.
Relax your face. Make sure you “arrive” in plenty of time so you’re not stressing about tech etc. Imagine your favourite friend is sitting the other side of the camera – someone who makes you smile when you think of them, so that the first thing your listener sees is a relaxed, genuine smile.
Check your background. I’m not a huge fan of virtual backgrounds as I prefer people use the opportunity to tell their listener something about themselves. But make sure whatever is behind you is what you want people to know about you! Chaotic mess isn’t ideal, but neither is a blank wall.
Prepare as you would for an in-person meeting. Warm up your voice; use your breathing to calm any nerves; get your body moving. All these things will help you appear relaxed and engaged. No one wants their first words to be croaky and unsure. Psyche yourself up as though you were going to an actual, real-life event!
This includes getting dressed! I know we all joke about Zoom dressing from the waist up, but not only do you feel more “in the zone” if you’re dressed appropriately, but you know you’re covered if the doorbell rings…
Sort your lighting so that you’re happy with how you look. Lights need to shine on to you from in front; make sure you’re not sitting in front of a window that just gives your viewer a silhouette to look at.
Think about your body. It’s tempting to forget you are more than just a head-and-shoulders-in-a-little-box-on-the-screen. You need to imagine your audience can see the whole of you, as this informs how you look from the shoulders up. Imagine you’re standing at the top of a hill, looking out at the sea and the horizon, the sun warming your face and the wind gently ruffling your hair. Notice how your face has relaxed and your shoulders have dropped: this is the sense of space you need to create to free you from that “little box” look.
And remember: making a good impression online starts before you even enter the meeting room. If someone googles you, and looks at your social media, are you creating the right impression?
Get in touch for help with communicating online.