Whether you like it or not, online meetings and classes are here to stay. With most of us working from home for a large majority of 2020, online meetings lost their mystery and became routine. Throw on an acceptable shirt (over your pyjama pants, of course), pull your hair back, and position your laptop camera so that the mess in your bedroom can’t be seen.
While we had to make-do with a difficult situation, the fact is that even though Covid-19 will eventually vanish, online meetings won’t. And soon there will be no excuse for not looking professional in your meetings. If you’re struggling with understanding how exactly to make your virtual meetings or online lessons look professional, we answer all your questions below.
If you’re interested in learning more about hosting meetings or lessons online, read our new article about how to keep your students engaged online.
Yes, this still matters and the effort you put in will pay off. Before entering online meetings, dress the way you would before an actual, in-person meeting: brush your hair, apply some makeup or shave your beard, put on that pretty pair of earrings. And don’t forget to dress for the part (at least on the top half): wear a professional looking shirt, but remember that a super white or black shirt will mess with the camera.
Lighting is probably the most important thing you can take away from this article. Bad lighting will make you look tired, gaunt and a lot worse than you actually look. The best lighting is front facing natural light coming from behind the laptop (as if you were sitting facing a window). If natural light isn’t possible, artificial lighting is the next best thing – but always have it pointing at you directly, as lighting coming from the sides – or worse, from behind you – will have the opposite effect that you were hoping for. If you’re really dedicated or just have terrible lighting in your house, there are lots of options for video conference lighting you can buy online.
You want to appear professional in online meetings or classes, and showing a messy room will not help you achieve a look of professionalism. Keep your background as simple as possible, because you want people to focus on you and not get distracted by what’s behind you. Try to find a blank wall or uncluttered room to position yourself in front of (while keeping lighting in mind), or create a dedicated space in your house with a suitable background.
Position your laptop or phone at eye level or slightly higher so that you are looking into the camera as you would into a person’s eyes. It’s really unflattering if your camera is positioned below eye level, and gives your audience a birds eye view of your double chins and nostrils. If you don’t have a desk at eye level, put some books under your laptop.
If you’ve got a job interview or an important meeting, you don’t want to prepare yourself and turn on the camera to find that you made a big mistake. If you’re new to online meetings or you’re trying a new t-shirt or makeup technique, do a trial run first. Turn on your webcam and make sure that your shirt isn’t so bright that it dulls the rest of the screen, or that your new makeup makes you look like a clown. Avoiding a mistake like this will be worth the time it takes to check that you look good beforehand.