Be Your Best “Virtual” Self
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
We’ve got you covered! Check out these tips - adapted from our webinar with Alyssa Peek, “The Power of Image” - on how to show up virtually with confidence and professional presence.
Presenting our best selves online (at least from the waist up!) is especially important as we adapt to remote work. Follow these tips and shine online!
Goals: What are 3 words describing how you want to be perceived in online meetings? What’s the image you want to project? Leader? Collaborative? Capable? Passionate? Empathetic? Approachable? Once you’re clear about your three words, use them as parameters to think about whether your online image aligns with how you want to present yourself.
Trust: To make positive connections virtually, you need to instill trust behind the camera. Smile, speak slowly, listen to understand, and don’t multitask! Show the people with whom you’re speaking that you made this time just for them and that you care. Ask clarifying questions during the meeting and follow up afterward by email or a phone call to continue the conversation.
Energy: The energy you bring to virtual meetings makes a difference! Don’t be a passive observer. Think about how to present as calm, open and competent: smiling, staying present, making eye contact, being responsive and interested, and creating dialogue within your virtual meetings.
Posture: Set yourself up for success with your body language. Sit up straight with your shoulders back. Think of a strong elongating from the crown of your neck to the ceiling and hold your head high. Think about “leading with your heart” virtually. What’s your power pose for virtual meetings? Hands in lap or arms crossed? Chin up or down? Take a few minutes to look at yourself in the mirror to check your posture before joining a virtual meeting.
Eye contact:: Stack a few books under your computer so that the camera is at eye level for you. For example, on a zoom call, even though it will be tempting to look at your own picture square, look at the computer camera when you are speaking and you will create greater connection with your participants.
Color:Think bright! Since your meeting participants will only see you from the waist up, go through your closet and find the brightest business casual shirts you have. A bright shirt with either no or minimal pattern will make you stand out and project a warm and uplifting presence. And it doesn’t have to be your favorite color- but one you feel good in. Linda: baby blue. Judy: clementine.
Light: Check the light in the room where you are doing your virtual meetings. Make sure either the room is well lit or you have a small desk lamp near your computer (or a light that you can attach to your computer). Don’t sit behind a sunny window as it will cast shadows on your face. Soft overhead lighting also helps to create a glow in the room.
Background: Even though everyone you are meeting with is also working from home, try to make the space that others see look as professional as possible. Sign onto the call ten minutes before it starts to check your set up. See if the background has anything in view that you might not want colleagues to be looking at during the meeting. Choose a simple uncluttered background.
Focus: Give your meeting participants 100% of your attention. Don’t look at texts, emails or social media while you are in the meeting. Treat the virtual meeting with the same attentiveness as you would in person. There will be glitches. Model patience and kindness as we all try and adapt. Perfect is the enemy of good!
Respect. Everyone is learning as we go and adjusting to new ways to communicate with each other. Respect that people will learn technology at different rates. Not everyone will feel comfortable participating online right away, and there will be others in a group who dominate the conversation (similar to in person meetings). Create a process for participation such as a queue for handling comments or questions that come up in the platform chat log or calling on people one at a time.