How to be present yourself professionally in a Teams video call or meeting

To present yourself at your best in Teams calls and meetings, you should use the resources that you have have to maximize how you are presented.

Sight

It is important that we can see your shoulders and face. You should position your camera so that you can visually own the space, with your head and shoulder being presented in the stream you are sending.

Head and shoulders presentation on a laptop

Position your laptop so that the camera you are using is as close to your eye level as you can. For those who have their laptop camera in the hinge of their laptop this may be something you only do for the most important meetings or presentations. Open your laptop screen as far as it will naturally go, and using books or other objects, prop up the back of your laptop.

The rest of us can use a stack of books or a box to raise our camera height for key calls and meetings. Remember, you are the only person who will see the props and tools you use.

Anything that will help to present you better, and that cannot be seen on camera, is a viable approach.

Lighting

Light should be in front of you, and behind your camera. Ideally, you will be able to sit facing a window or other source of natural light to present at your best.

If natural light is not an option that is available to you, place a lamp or other light behind your laptop, tablet, or smartphone camera. Like many people your desk may be facing a wall. In this situation your best approach will be to bounce light from a lamp off the wall. You can do this by aiming the light at the wall, and adjusting the position to maximise the light reflecting on to your face.

If the light coming from your lamp is too warm you could order a new lightbulb from Amazon with a higher Kelvin rating to get a light that is more white. Standard light bulbs tend to be available up to 6,000 Kelvins. In my experience something around the 4000 Kelvin range will give a cooler light.

Your background

In my earlier post in this series, How to present yourself at your best in Teams, Microsoft Teams, like Zoom, and other Video platforms has a feature to replace your background image.

This is very effective at either blurring, or removing your background from your video stream. This is a great feature that you can use as an equaliser in terms of our sudden need to be visible from home, without revealing everything.

If you find that the remove background feature is not a useable alternative, for your most important calls, turn your desk so that you back is against a plain wall.

If you cannot turn your desk, remember, if you place your laptop on a suitable surface, you can sit with your back to a plain wall, without the desk. No-one will know.

Be engaged

If you have taken the effort to present yourself professionally, front and centre, it is important that you are engaged in your call or meeting. Pay attention and remain focused on the meeting you are in.

I attended a webinar last week in which one of the presenters kept using his iPhone while the other speakers were presenting. It was easy to tell he had an iPhone as he held it in view of his camera for us all to see him using it while the other presenters were speaking.

If you need to keep track of an issue on your phone place your phone on mute and hold your phone next to your camera or laptop screen. This way you can discreetly view the incoming messages with only minor sideways eye movements.

Prop your phone up as needed. You must keep your phone out of view of the camera.

If you’re presenting yourself with confidence, you can pull off pretty much anything. Katy Perry

Grooming

We are all now in some stage of lockdown and restricted personal movement. Some of us had more time to prepare than others. I know I wish I had gotten a haircut closer to being locked down. But that was 8 week ago, and even with a haircut I would still have 2 months of growth to account for.

It’s important that you present yourself as well groomed as is relevant for you and your profession. For those of use working remotely and using Teams our careers have not stopped. How you present and carry yourself through this period has the potential to have an impact on your career. I think it’s worth trying to make it a positive one.

Clothing

Our dress code while working remotely is another area where you can impact positively on the impression that people have of you. While the Financial Times recently suggested you could lose your tie (Keep the blazer, lose the tie – the new rules of home workwear), they still recommended a business shirt and suit jacket, or blouse and jacket, for important meetings.

In many other meetings an open collared business shirt or blouse is perfect. The overarching advice from the FT was to maintain the standards of your workplace.

Conclusion

We’ve now covered issues around how you are presented visually in video calls and meetings. In the next post in this series I tackle how we are heard, and what others can hear from us during our calls and meetings. Be sure to come back for the next post in this series on presenting yourself at your best in Teams video calls and meetings.

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