When usage of virtual meetings went from 0 to 60 overnight it brought new participants to the table. Were you one of those presenting your best or were you guilty of the top offenses in the “room?” If you want to be memorable in a positive way, we’ve identified six key considerations before you jump on your next meeting or conduct a webinar.

There are tons of video calls with awkward moments, “bloopers,” and annoying distractions. They are most memorable for the wrong reasons.  Those guffaws are easily spotted (and hopefully corrected.) However, some extremely basic errors can erode your efforts to present a more professional side. We call them the “six to fix,” when you focus on these you can stand out for the right reasons.


Remember, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  Don’t forget the adage when jumping on a video call.  What will the viewers think when you first log on?  Prepared?  Late? Professional? Organized? Distracted? Have you really thought about it?  Take a screenshot of your camera view, share it and ask a friend, “how could this improve?”

Virtual backgrounds might make it worse. A few add the right nuance, but others distract, it may be your logo or favorite photo, but does it enhance your image? Do you have that “cut and pasted” look?” Sometimes these can “cheapen” your presentation. Is there an odd glow or aura around your head? It’s often exaggerated with dark solid colors. While you may want to highlight your logo, it’s counterproductive because the glow immediately pulls the eye away from what should be the focus and becomes the first impression.


Check your camera angle. We’re tired of seeing 50% ceiling with the chin cut off. Worse yet, there is the view up a participant’s nostrils. Since many of us are working with laptops or phones this should be an easy fix. Find a stand, a box, some books, anything that will elevate your camera to eye level.

If you want to present the best “look,” be sure your view is directly into the camera and not up or down. The latter will give a less flattering view.  Finally, position your camera far away but not too far.  Your face shouldn’t occupy more than 50% of the screen and preferably a little less.


Actors are accustomed to working with the “fourth wall” of the stage, the imaginary wall that separates the actor from the audience.  The onstage action takes place in an isolated environment while the audience watches through this “wall.” That is in the theater, you’re not. We see too many who, like actors, are forgetting their “audience” exists on this call with them. They fidget, drink, yawn, etc. Instead, you need to picture yourself onstage when you step on the call. Every movement, habit, head scratch, side conversation and even eye contact becomes important. In fact, it’s even more exaggerated here due to the close nature of the camera. Be constantly “on guard” against annoying movements and focus on engaging directly with your viewers.  Let the camera be a face.


Take another hint from the entertainment industry.  Lighting makes a difference, sets the mood and tone, or can put you in the spotlight. Most people just “go with what they have” but you need a “set” for your calls. Ring lights are great and reasonably priced, but you can do without. Just Google “three-point lighting” to capture ideal lighting setups. You can use lamps that you have or other sources. Think about killing the glaring fluorescents, adding a lamp to your front and side and some background lighting. Chances are you’ll look better than 90% of the other participants and that’s the message you probably want to send.


Earlier, I spoke briefly of virtual backgrounds and their pitfalls.  If you’re not using one, then pay close attention to what is in background view of the camera. It should go without saying, but your background should be on par with your image and persona. It needs to be appropriate and not draw attention from your input.

Look out for glaring sun and windows in the background that may force an auto adjustment. Bright colors and pets can also pull attention away.  Set the scene and be aware of subtle nuances that send unwanted messages. E.G. Clutter will speak to the viewers.  If you work for a company, don’t have a competitor’s mug in the background!


Sound can be all over the place when you participate in a call.  Get a friend to assess yours in a one-on-one call before you do your next call.  You may sound like you’re at the bottom of the well, have a high pitched, “tinny” sound or be coming through much softer than you thought. Just as in person, all of these have an impact on the impression you leave.  It may be worth the investment in a clip-on, lavalier microphone for $20 or so to make sure you’re heard loudly and clearly. Again, you’ll position yourself better than most others in the call.

In summary, virtual meetings are here to stay, so take the time to “fix the six” and improve the way you are perceived by your colleagues on your next call.  Your career may depend on it!

 David J. Fry, is the President and CEO of Effective Advancement Strategies in Greensburg and consults with businesses and nonprofits throughout Indiana.  He may be contacted at strategies@etczone.com

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