Before you hit the stage or your desk in an online setting, you’re putting a lot of time and effort into making your presentation look as professional and appealing as possible. Often, we are carefully considering which font and colours to use, which stock images fit the energy of the message, and how the language flows with what we have to say. And that’s good, but there are other visual elements of your presence to which we ought to give attention.
Have you ever bought a new outfit and felt like the cool kid in high school, ego-boosted and ready to embrace the spotlight? It doesn’t have to be a style makeover; it could be as simple as a new shirt or pair of shoes. Whatever your new item is, use it as a vessel to present the new you.
Levelling up your appearance can give you confidence from within and give your viewers a powerful and fresh first impression of you, even if it’s subconscious. Feeling (and looking) good can help you feel more confident and elevate your existing sense of empowerment and leadership.
For some, it is naturally easier to present from the comfort of home. In many cases, you can find yourself presenting alone or in groups, and there are common dress-code mistakes that can detract from your message.
However, when speaking (inside your own home) publicly, the same standards of professionalism, etiquette, and attention to detail should be adhered to. That means phones and notification bells are on mute, distractions are in another room, and snacks are already consumed.
Although your audience should inform your attire, it’s best to avoid patterns such as herringbone that do not render well digitally. And being camera-ready is a must for the potential last-minute online meeting. Even when you work remotely, a dress code is still in place - and, yes, that includes working from home.
It is normal to opt for comfort over style in your own home. Online work is the new normal. Love it or hate it, fully remote and hybrid workplaces are here to stay, making your home office a functioning podium. However, your body language is tentative when you are half-presentable. And we don’t have to remind you of those wardrobe mishaps.
When you’re presenting, you want all eyes on you, and sharing your congested or out-of-focus scene distracts your audience. Crowded backgrounds can overload their cognitive resources to the point that your message is not even heard, and, depending on your internet connection, it can degrade the quality of your video.
Keep in mind that if something is in view, your audience is looking at it. If that backdrop includes a bookshelf close behind you, your meeting participants are either checking out your choice of reading materials OR they’re paying attention to you - not both.
Consider this: Is your home office in your unfinished basement? Your bedroom? That’s okay! Not everyone has the opportunity or space to have a designated office in their home. Consider privacy in your workspace by removing confidential or overly personal effects and planting yourself in front of a blank wall.
And just because a feature is available in your online meeting app doesn’t mean you should use it. It’s ill-advised to use blurred or virtual backgrounds as these are not optimal and do not offer inclusive experiences for your neurodiverse audiences. And we should always strive for inclusivity.
With these practical tips, you’ll look sharp, professional, and poised to rock the virtual podium, regardless of your audience or objective.