Looking after yourself goes hand in hand with looking good.Linda Evans
I was Zooming with a colleague from work recently-because frankly, I just wanted to see another live face. We were talking about conference call etiquette because it seems that’s a thing now—or at least it should be. Only weeks ago, when we were all in the office, it wasn’t all that common to turn on a camera for conference calls. Now that we’re all remote, and clamoring for human interaction, the computer camera is putting us in a starring role. And not to fault anyone, it’s not always an award-winning picture.
BC19 (Before COVID-19), we all got up with an alarm, stumbled through our caffeine-fueled morning routines, applied make-up, curled hair, and got to work in polished, albeit casual, clothing. Nowadays, with so much uncertainty and constant shifts in the intersections of our personal and professional lives, we are not always paying attention to ourselves or to our environments like we should. It’s important to try and right that ship before we start to teeter too far over. I’ve seen a man kicked back in shorts on his sofa with the computer on the coffee table-neither a flattering, nor appropriate angle. And I’ve seen a girl sitting on a bench outside with the wind blowing and random traffic noises, which causes a lot of distraction in the call.
Here are some styling tips for looking good on camera and keeping positive in an ever-changing (remote) work environment.
- Play around with the screen angle. Call your mother and have a little Facetime tonight. While you’re on the call, adjust the screen angle so that it’s a flattering shot of your face. This may mean adjusting the laptop so that the camera is at the same level as your face. This will create a “level playing field” with others, regardless of the context of the conversation.
- Lighting. In the event business, we’re all about the lighting to set the appropriate mood. It’s no different on your calls. You’ll look best with some natural light in the room, especially when it highlights your face, and is projected from behind the camera, not behind you.
- Dress Code. Dress as you would for the office with polished makeup, hair, and clothing. This helps set a professional tone for your call and lets your attendees know you’re prepared and ready for the call.
- Rehearse. Turn on the camera ten minutes before the call and see how you look. It will give you time to adjust accordingly. Many of the conference call systems have filters that can adjust your lighting or adjust the tone of your makeup for you. Experiment ahead of time, especially before a big client presentation.
Select an appropriate background.
Here, the rule is: less is more. On a call with your boss or a one-on-one with a colleague, the couch might be a suitable location. However, when participating on a call with a group of people, pay attention to your background. Opt for a neutral backdrop that isn’t competing with your face or your message.
Choose a quiet location.
Make sure your kids are otherwise occupied and that others in the house know you’re on a video call. Turn down any background noise from the TV. Ensure Oliver, the dog, is sleeping quietly in another room and won’t interrupt your call. (Yes, like Murphy’s law, he knows the best and worst time to compete for my attention.)
It’s easy to be distracted when working from home for a variety of reasons. When on a conference call, set all other devices down and turn them to silent mode. Keep in mind that you are on camera, and as such will want to behave as you would in person. Maintaining eye contact, asking questions, and being prepared are all essential.