This article appears in the June 2020 issue of Advisor’s Edge magazine. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.
When the coronavirus arrived, most of us were unprepared to work from home. A few months later and we’re all seasoned videoconferencers. Virtual meetings aren’t likely to stop when the crisis ends. That means it’s worth investing to ensure you portray yourself on screen as professionally and confidently as you would in person.
Curate your background
Take a screenshot of what will appear in the video and study it carefully. It’s OK to have two or three snapshots and mementos, but thin them out so they’re not distracting. And remove anything that’s too personal. You want people listening to what you’re saying, not inspecting your surroundings. Remember: home libraries will be judged.
Adjust the view
Place your computer in front of you, about 18 inches away. Raise it so the camera is centered on your face, preferably your forehead. Smile and look directly at the camera when possible so your eyes engage with your viewers.
Let there be light
But it has to be the right light — not the one on the ceiling. Buy a cheap directional desk lamp and place it on your more flattering side. Prop up a white foam presentation board opposite the lamp (making sure it’s not visible) to reflect light and diminish any shadows.
Working from home is no excuse to look unkempt. Style your hair, trim your beard and wear makeup if you normally do.
Don’t think you can get away with not ironing. The camera exaggerates wrinkled fabric and lumpy clothes. And wear the entire getup: you may have to stand, and your top should match your bottom.
Agree on a strategy with members of your household to minimize their on-screen time. In my home, a closed door means I’m in a meeting. A friend of mine puts a sign outside her office while her husband corrals their kids. We’ve all witnessed a few cute cameos, but don’t push your luck.
Have a trial run with a friend and record the session. Anything distracting or out of place? Use this trick from photo shoots to make your setup easy to replicate: mark the exact position of your computer, lamp and foam board with tape.