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5 steps to projecting professionalism online

With many meetings going online, appearing professional has become a prerequisite. We need to remember even if we are in our home offices, the way we appear on video can either build up or break down someone’s opinion of you and in turn the work you do. Here are five quick steps to project a professional image online.

STEP 1: Check your sounds

When working from home, you may have a wide variety of sounds happening around you. Try to choose times in your day where the surrounding sounds are limited. You can choose noise-cancelling microphones which cut out some of the ambient sounds but just be aware of the sounds around your home office.

Another sound you may want to check is the echo in your office. You can dampen the echo by having curtains and a carpet in your office.

Furthermore, check your microphone. Though the built-in microphone on your computer may work, you would sound clearer if you used a headset with a microphone or a standalone microphone. Both offer a crisp sound to your listeners.

STEP 2: Look at your lighting

The best lighting to have is natural light from the front but there will be times when it’s not possible. During these times ensure that your main light source is not behind you otherwise you may look like a black outline to those in your meeting. Invest in a ring light to ensure you have an even light source on your face.

STEP 3: Examine your video

To ensure a clear image, try to use a HD webcam. This will help you to look less fuzzy on other people’s screens. You should also set the expectation that you will be using video during your meeting when you send out the meeting request. This will ensure that both parties will be ready for the video meeting.

When you position yourself in front of the camera make sure your face is not being cut off in any way. You should sit up straight and have your shoulders and head in the video frame. Ensure your camera is not too low or too high as this will give the impression that you are looking down at people if it is too low.

STEP 4: Curate your background

When people look at your video what are they seeing in the background? Are there people walking behind you? If so, try to move to a quieter place with less foot traffic. Do you have dirty dishes in the background or is the desk behind you a mess of piles? You can curate your background by cleaning up behind you. There are three backgrounds which give a professional image:

  1. A designed background: You can look at your background and select certain images and objects which reflect what your brand is about. If you have a particular colour prominent in your brand, then maybe let that be part of your background.
  2. A screen: You can put up a green screen to project a fake background onto it. Other ideas are to have a screen with your logo on it or you can have a plain screen behind you.
  3. A blank wall: Look for a wall which is clean and clear of any images or windows.

Remember you don’t want your background to distract from what you have to say.

Step 5: Dress for the purpose

How you are attired can say a lot to the people who will see you on video. Make sure you are dressed for business. If you dress too casually, the attendees of the meeting may not take you seriously. If you choose to dress formally from the waist up and be casual below, make sure you won’t have to stand up at any point in the meeting because that could end badly.

Another aspect of dressing appropriately for your business meeting is that you will be put in the frame of mind to do business.

When choosing clothes to wear, try to stay away from small patterns. Wear solid colours and be aware of the clash with your background. If you wear black and your background is dark, you may be seen as a talking head with no body. So, try not to blend into the background with the clothes you wear for your meeting.

By following the five steps you will be prepared to look professional online.

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