Communicating during such challenging times takes thought and preparation. Many of us are working remotely using: video calls; Zoom; Face Time; Skype; GoToMeeting and webinars. You may think “video conferencing” doesn’t require the same level of polish you would bring to an in-person interview or client meeting, but the visual impact remains the same. Stains and wrinkles can be quite visible. What you want to avoid is looking like you just rolled out of bed or off the treadmill.
What follows are some ways to look and feel put-together while connecting remotely.
- Dress Your Best. The outfit you select should make you feel confident and comfortable while not being distracting. The camera loves blues, greens, and also pinks, reds, purples and browns. Remember that bulky fabrics can add pounds. To avoid being over-exposed, dress on the conservative side; plunging necklines, crop tops, tank tops and spaghetti straps give the impression you are out of touch with business protocol. Dresses and business tops without jackets that do not cause you to be over-exposed work well. Zippers on jackets, sweaters and tops are good on video as they create a strong vertical line that naturally draws the viewer’s eye to your face and eyes.
- Jewelry Well-placed jewelry can add visual interest as long as it works well with your outfit and is not a distraction. Avoid over-sized earrings that move around when you speak. Likewise, avoid stackable bracelets that make noise with hand movements. You want people to connect with what you are saying, not with what you are wearing.
- Make-up — wear it. It adds polish and a finishing touch even if you don’t wear it daily. The amount of makeup should be the same as when you have a head shot done or go on TV. It probably feels weird since you are working from home but you will thank me when you can see yourself on the screen. At the very least, put on a bright lipstick and more blush and setting powder than you usually would do. The powder can control an otherwise shiny face. And, the point of the color is to bring attention to your face and therefore to what you are saying.
- Background Choose a neutral background that is not cluttered with messy piles, food or beverages. Less is more. Have a clear background if at all possible. If there is something colorful on the wall behind you, wear solid colors so whatever is on the wall is not a distraction. If your background is light, wear something dark. If it is dark, where something bright. You want to avoid blending into the background and losing your on-camera clout. A non-cluttered background allows people to more easily focus on you and what you have to say.
- Lighting Avoid fluorescent lights as they can cast unflattering shadows. Also avoid overhead lights as they can create dark under eye shadows.
- Maintain Good Eye Contact The camera should be placed at eye level so you are centered on the screen during the call and easy to see. If using a laptop or iPhone, place something beneath the device to raise it until your eyes are at the same level as the camera lens.
- Wear Pants. You should be completely dressed. Even if nobody else can see what you are wearing on the bottom, you will feel more professional and act accordingly.
- Eliminate Distractions If you have animals or children running around in the house, close (and maybe even lock) your office door and let your family know when you are participating in a video meeting . This can help avoid embarrassing situations.
- Keep Your Notes Nearby If you need to check some notes during your call, jot them down on a sheet of paper and tape them next to your camera. This can help you stay on track. Also keep a notepad and pen handy to make some notes with as little visual disruption as possible.
- Last Word Make it a practice to give yourself a few minutes before each call to check your appearance one more time before signing on. Remember to check your teeth, hair and makeup. Keep a hair brush, lipstick and other basic essentials along with a small mirror at your desk, if you need a quick touch up.