Out of necessity, the COVID 19 pandemic has accelerated the use of remote video meeting capabilities and established new standards and expectations for its impact. All of us have likely experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of the technology. It’s often surprising how people who should know better fail to present favorably via video because they ignore some of the most basic elements that contribute to impactful presentations. We should learn from our video meeting experiences and apply best practices to enhance our own effectiveness, especially in business circumstances.
Like it or not, there, there is an element of performance in any presentation and it’s even more intense via video. The camera is trained on you and it’s unforgiving…in fact, it magnifies how you appear and everything you do. Be aware of the camera and prepare ahead of time to stage manage your presentation for a positive impression.
Start with what the audience will see on screen. Dress appropriately for the circumstances of your meeting. Business casual has become the standard for most remote business meeting. That doesn’t mean you can simply come as you are. There is value in looking your best in your dress, personal hygiene and styling to make a favorable impact on your audience. Choose your outfit and wear it well. Simple patterns and basic solid colors will project better via video.
Choose your setting and background purposefully. If you don’t have an intentional backdrop such as your office wall, bookcase or business logo screen, select a neutral background that won’t distract your audience.
Lighting is also critically important. Avoid backlight from a window or lamps and other lighting. But be aware that effective, focused lighting on your face and video image will help to improve the professionalism of your appearance. You don’t need specialized equipment for this purpose but some forethought, simple techniques and experimentation can make a big difference. There are many short and simple tutorials online to help guide you through this.
Next, frame yourself properly in the video field of vision (You can usually do this before you actually sign in on many video meeting programs) and sit comfortably with good posture and maintain discipline and a low emotion smile. Look directly into the camera to make eye contact with others, not just your screen.
Remember the camera is magnifying your every move and facial expression. If you have to scratch, blow your nose, get up or take a drink of water or coffee, discreetly mute and leave the video mode briefly at a point when you are not presenting. Slip back into video with a neutral expression.
Appearances alone will go a long way in a video presentation especially, but it’s only part of how you make positive impact. The substance of what you say and how you say it is just as important and it requires purposeful focus and skillful technique when your audience connection comes remotely. That’s a topic for another time.