This post was written by Kendra Raguckas, Director of Instructional Design & Technology at The Latimer Group.
Two weeks ago, our team hosted a free online conversation focusing on our new normal in the virtual world. We shared our top five observations from the transition to mandated remote work and our recommendations on how to adjust during these uncertain times. It was a great conversation and offered many insights from our TLG community. However, during our preparation for the conversation we discussed our conflicting views on how one should present themselves by video in our new virtual environment. Can you be more relaxed, or should you still put time and energy into what you visually present? Not surprisingly, we arrived at one of our key principles: be authentic and appropriate for the situation.
To assist you in preparing to meet in a virtual video environment, consider the following:
Always begin with a reflection on who you will be meeting with. Who is your audience? How will they be dressed and what do they consider “business attire”? Next, what is your topic? Is this a weekly team meeting or a large presentation to the executive board? These questions and considerations will help you determine appropriate attire. Remember your audience has a limited view so turn your camera on to see what they see. You can always have business on the top and sweatpants on the bottom!
The work you just did in considering your attire will also help you curate your background. One of my first tasks when I joined The Latimer Group was to transform our webinar room with two different background upgrades: plants to create dimension and supplemental lighting to enhance the crispness of our image. We all agreed that the new set-up created a much-improved, professional, polished atmosphere. However, with our new normal of self-quarantining and working from home, that isn’t always necessary. Simply focus on reducing the distractions your background can create. And, if you have an important presentation, turn your desk around and place your back to a clean wall with a picture or two to enable your visible surroundings to enhance your presentation.
Camera Angle and Lighting
No matter who you will be meeting with, there are a couple of basic adjustments you can make to give your audience a better visual experience. First, have your camera as close to eye-level as possible. This not only helps you to make eye contact throughout your meeting, it also prevents you from looking down as often throughout. If you are using an integrated camera on your laptop, try propping your laptop on a box. This will increase the height of your camera so you can look at it head on. Second, consider having the lighting in your room in front of you. When you have lighting or windows behind you it creates backlight which can reduce your image into a shadow. Try adding a lamp in front of you to ensure your camera is focusing on your face and not what is behind you.
By considering your audience and their perspective, with these small adjustments, you will reduce distractions and increase connection.
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Looking for more from The Latimer Group?
- Start with Clarity and Brevity (But Don’t Forget the Context, Impact And Value)
- Repeatable Preparation Leads to Repeatable Performance
- The Key to Building Credibility
- The Psychology of Weak Language
- Message Planning: How to Choose Your Focus
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