Find your inner broadcaster to achieve virtual success
Let’s face it, we have all become broadcasters. Whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet or Webex, we are all presenting ourselves on screens far more than we ever used to.
And this feeling of constantly being in the spotlight has caused most of us – from young women starting out to power women at the top – to become our own worst critics.
Since we’re all acting like broadcasters, let me share what I learned from my days in front of the camera:
Sit up and look straight ahead. A strong, upright posture conveys confidence. Conversely, slumping implies weakness or uncertainty and can cause viewers to lose trust or respect. And avoid the dreaded “double chin effect” by elevating your phone, computer or iPad so that the camera is directly at eye level.
Maintain eye contact. When presenting virtually, it’s important to look your audience in the eye. Treat the tiny camera dot on the top of your screen or phone as your viewer’s eye and avoid looking at yourself on screen as it will appear that you’re looking down. Try taping a smiley face near the camera lens— it will draw your attention to the camera and may even remind you to crack a smile.
Avoid the teleprompter. While it may seem tempting, skip any sort of teleprompter tool or app. They typically have to be manually scrolled (which can add another layer of stress to your presentation) and with only a few words per line, it will appear that your eyes are darting side to side. Instead, try resting a white sheet of paper with key bullet points on top of your keyboard. Not only will the bullets keep you on track, but the white paper will reflect a soft glow beneath your face.
Skip the headphones. Remember, this is a presentation, not a DJ booth. Avoid large, over-the-ear headphones —- and remember the smaller in-ear headphones are better but often have connectivity issues. Instead, invest in an inexpensive lavalier microphone that you attach to your shirt, or simply use the computer or phone audio.
Keep a proper distance. Situate your chair so that, when looking at the screen, there is approximately 1” of space between the top of your head and the top of the screen. And if you need to emphasize a point, simply lean in toward the screen.
Use your hands. This is another great way to add emphasis and bring your words to life, but make sure not to obstruct your face —you don’t want the viewer to focus on your hands rather than your message.
Look put together…from the waist up. Even though you may be working from home you still need to look professional. Sure, you can wear leggings, jeans or even sweats on the bottom – just don’t let them show. And it’s important to know your audience and dress appropriately for them … it shows respect, and you will be perceived more credibly.
Make your tailor your best friend. You know the saying, “The camera adds ten pounds”? Well, it’s not actually true. But ill-fitting clothes can in fact make you look sloppy. So, make sure your clothes – especially your tops – fit well.
Make smart color, fabric and style choices. In general, avoid black clothing because it can convey a somber tone and is hard to see on screen. Instead, choose colors that complement your skin tone and that reflect the message you’re trying to deliver. Shades of pink work for every skin tone and ethnicity, warming us up and giving a nice glow. Jewel tones are good too. Make sure the fabrics are classy; sweatshirt material is a no-no. And finally, avoid busy patterns as they can be distracting and scarves and crazy necklines as they can muffle your voice and partially obstruct your face.
Everyone’s doing it. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everyone wears makeup on tv – even the men. Lighting can be harsh and wreak havoc on the appearance of your skin. A simple tinted BB cream or moisturizer can be enough to smooth out your facial tone. Add some powder to eliminate any shine.
Look like the girl next door, not a lady of the night. You want people to focus on you and your message, not on your electric blue eyeliner – so keep the makeup routine simple. Also, show your hair a little love and tone down those frizzies.
Of course, how you present yourself best is unique to you. Do what makes you feel good because when you feel good, you are at your most confident. And make sure to have a few dry runs before the live performance. Check out how you look by creating your own virtual meeting and recording it. Then look at the recording and decide if you would relate well to the person on the screen. True leadership is about likeability, relatability and compassion. Look like who you want to be!
I am a communications coach with vast experience working with female leaders across many businesses: finance, insurance, startups and entrepreneurs, fintech, health care,