Guest columnist: Cris Alves
In the post-pandemic, remote work is no longer a trend but a reality for many professionals. However, I still notice a certain lack of skill from leaders and employees to deal with this new routine, its tools and ways of interaction. Physical distance has the power to make interpersonal relationships in the corporate context a little colder. And instead of working hard to overcome the limitations of the virtual world, many people have taken advantage of the convenience of cameras turned off and text messages to neglect a work variable that is essential for the healthy and efficient dynamics of any team.
By disregarding that the virtual environment is as real as the physical one, some people are missing out on important opportunities to attract new business and/or promotion in their current job. Many times, people get comfortable with the familiar environment of the home and adopt a behavior of not positioning themselves and not communicating properly through the screens. Even leaders are forgetting that it is possible to raise the level of engagement of the team even in a 100% remote work environment. Therefore, this is the time to take care of our digital presence!
But, Cris, how do you build a memorable digital presence?
If you want to be remembered, let’s start with the most basic and most important: don’t hide behind your screens! Omission, lack of prior care for your appearance, or even worse, leaving the camera off are ways to sabotage your communication. Besides showing lack of interest, it is very unpleasant to interact with someone who seems not to want to be there. Presence means being in the moment, completely. Nothing replaces an eye to eye interaction!
How is your background?
Here I will refer to the image in the literal sense, that is, the context of what is going to appear on the screen: the setting, the lighting, the sound, among other issues. These are very important factors to consider:
Distance from the camera: Cell phone and computer cameras, used by most people during digital interactions, are wide-angle and can cause image distortions (widening the face, distorting extremities such as the nose, and preventing the perception of bone proportions. Thus, in interactions over the cell phone, I suggest at least one meter of distance. From the computer, 50 centimeters is enough.
It is important that the camera be at eye level. If necessary, use a support (a stack of books will do) or a tripod to place it in the ideal position.
Lighting: Again, the idea is to be seen clearly! If you have a natural light source (work near a window, for example), perfect! Otherwise, invest in an artificial light source. Ideally, you should have two light sources coming towards you (one on either side of your face). This will avoid shadows on the face and the consequent emphasis on facial ridges. When this happens, the effect is a tired and aged look.
Ambiance: Avoid visual pollution. The environment must not draw the attention of the interlocutors more than you do. You can insert pictures and photos on the wall, but avoid those with human figures. Good options are geometric figures or abstract images. If the background is colored, avoid walls with colors that may tire the people on the other side of the screen. Plants and ornaments are welcome, as long as they are not competing with you. Bookshelves are preferred by most people and can create a very interesting composition. Just be careful to avoid that the books are so close to the screen that they make people curious to read the title of the covers. And remember: these choices of your setting will also communicate about you: your tastes, your preferences, and your life repertoire.
What about the aspect of sound?
The traffic outside, the neighbors’ construction, the noise of the children, the ringing Interphone… None of this can be controlled when you are in the home office. The ideal is that, while someone else is talking, you leave your microphone muted. This way, the background noise does not interfere with the other person’s speech, besides showing respect to the other person. When you need to make an intervention, activate the “hand up” button or let the meeting participants know through the chat box.
I do a lot of live streams and record a lot of videos to interact with my audience on social media. Recently, I discovered the Krispi app, which helps eliminate background noise for people listening to us. It has been very helpful and I recommend it!
Personal image is just as important as the technical aspects!
Since we are talking about the camera on and being seen, we cannot leave out the care for our personal image! We have to pay special attention to the part we show on camera, from the waist up. Our “3×4 portrait” has never been so in evidence as it is now! Having good personal hygiene, clean hair, choice of clothes, all this also shows concern and interest in being there. It shows that you have prepared yourself for that moment.
Do you still have questions on the subject? On my Instagram (@persoona.crisalves) there are a series of lessons on this subject, which also includes verbal communication.
And now, do you feel more confident about making your video calls “look good”? Start testing these tools, and if you want to exchange ideas with me, I’d love to!