One of the greatest perks of working from home is the ability to work hard in your comfiest clothes. But remote teams also need to be able to hold video meetings for that all-important face-to-face time. Whether it’s an impromptu chat with your coworker three time zones away, a distributed happy hour, or an intense planning session requiring lots of discussion, someone somewhere needs to see your bright, shining face. And you’ve got to be ready.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of presenting yourself on video.
Do Put Together a Work Uniform.
The rules of professional appearance are different for digital. Unless it makes you feel more comfortable, don’t feel the need to dress in traditional office attire simply for the sake of the camera. There’s no need for a tie when you work at home—a shirt with a collar is more than enough.
Getting ready and putting on a video-call-worthy outfit can help you get in the right frame of mind for work and look your best. If the thought of this seems overwhelming, consider putting together a work uniform so that getting ready in the mornings isn’t a pain.
Don’t Hide in the Shadows.
Your personal appearance won’t matter if you’re lurking in the shadows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to talk to a person who was backlit so intensely by a bright window or lamp that they looked like they were in the witness protection program.
When presenting yourself on video, you’ve got to find your light! Make sure your strongest source of light is coming from in front of you or, if that’s not possible, to the side or overhead. The light should never, ever come from behind you.
If you frequently present yourself on video in a room that doesn’t have ideal lighting, consider investing in a simple ring light to brighten up your face for the camera.
Do Pay Attention to Your Body Language.
We sometimes ignore how important body language is in a digital environment. The people on the other side of the screen are still picking up cues from you, even though you aren’t standing next to their desk. Signals, like sitting up straight and crossing your arms, still have an impact.
When you’re speaking, make “eye contact” with the camera. It will read as if you are looking in the eye of the viewer. And if you have dual screens, as so many of us do, look into the one that houses the camera so your teammates don’t have to talk to the side of your head.
If you can’t maintain virtual eye contact with the person you’re talking to (say you’re taking meeting notes), let them know so they understand why you’re turned away, looking down, or typing. When it comes to the limited body language your team can see over video, context is everything. This is why face-to-face conversation is so vital to remote work.
Don’t Stick The Camera Up Your Nose.
You know that feeling when you open the camera app on your phone and it’s accidentally facing toward you? You can see straight up your own nose and, suddenly, you have several more chins than you did before. That’s what your coworkers see when you turn on your video with your laptop sitting in your lap.
Think of your video window like an actor’s headshot: the camera should be at eye level, and the screen should comfortably show your face and shoulders. You want the video to be close—but not too close.
In Sococo, each room of your team’s virtual office is equipped with instant-on video and audio. All you need to do to chat with your team or start a meeting is pop into a room and toggle on your camera and microphone. But before you turn on your camera, remember: step out of the shadows and into the light, and put your best face forward.