You’ve had 20 months to get your digital act together.
This new mode of work ain’t going away, people.
Life seems to be returning to normal for many—and for many, there’s a new normal that leans heavily on a virtual presence.
Here are my top tips and reminders about getting your digital/virtual game finally in order:
Drop that fake background.
Loved the SoHo loft, English library, Cape Cod view, and for a rare few, the Death Star. It was novel for a month. That month passed. Nineteen months ago. Get your background in order. Your own, authentic, real background. I get it—you live alone in a studio. You’re newly single with no furniture. Finally paid off your student loan debt and don’t have a spare dollar to invest in your interior design. Two words: World Market. Go get a $50 print of the Eiffel Tower. Hang it. You’re done. Grab a $9 gallon of paint and have at it. Today. Enough with the fake backgrounds—when you move, it makes me seasick. Like COVID-19—virtual backgrounds are so 2019!
Buy a ring light.
There’s no excuse for poor lighting anymore. Google “ring light.” You’re done.
Stop stacking your laptop on books and empty Amazon boxes.
Buy yourself an adjustable stand for your laptop. Google “laptop stand.” You’re done.
Buy a microphone.
I like mine from FIFINE. Google “external laptop microphone.” You’re done.
You need a camera.
No, the one installed on your laptop ain’t enough. You need a high-quality, clip-on camera to bring your stunning features to life. Google “laptop camera.” You’re done. Well, almost—unlike the ring light and adjustable stand, which are fairly standard, you want to think about what type of camera you’d like. Increasingly we’re seeing cameras that focus on your face and blur your background. Bonus—that means you can buy a cheaper print at World Market because you’re going to invest in a better camera that blurs it anyway.
Bad hair days.
No such thing, people. Why were you able to comb your hair for the past two decades Monday through Friday with no problem, but now suddenly you’re always off-camera because you couldn’t pull it together in time for the 7:30 a.m. Zoom meeting? Figure it out. If you would have shown up to the meeting in your organization’s conference room, you need to be looking good and ready to engage.
Mobile or stationary?
If there’s been any professional upside to the pandemic, it’s been a greater sense of mobility for many. My career affords me the freedom to take calls and even video meetings in the car (ideally parked). But I’ve likely taken too many liberties here. Carefully consider where and when you dial in and plan your day accordingly.
If you’re joining a video meeting, you need to be on video.
Period. Don’t behave in a way that forces your leader to address your lack of visual engagement. Get your act together and get on camera. The entire time. Which means you might need to put on some pants. Imagine that.
Finally—reach out to someone in your organization or network who is ahead of you on this and ask for advice. Oh yeah, read Erica Dhawan’s book Digital Body Language—it’s a superb start.
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About the AuthorMore Content by Scott Miller