Work/Life: How and why to look your best during video calls

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On this episode of Work/Life, Ciara Pressler, author of Pregame and Game Plan, talks with Greg Nibler about the importance of looking good on your videoconference calls, which have become a necessity for many during the coronavirus. Pressler follows up on her earlier tips on how to look better during your video calls with the important reasons why you should be thinking more about how you present yourself to co-workers and possible future employers.

So why is it important to put so much effort into video calls? “Even right now, people are half-listening to what I’m saying and half-looking at my background trying to make a few assumptions about me,” she said. She also notes that part of being human is the subconscious ways we evaluate and judge each other and the world around us. “It’s not always fair, but it’s just how we are as humans,” she says. “We’re making evaluations and assumptions all the time.”

In addition to meetings, many people are finding themselves interviewing for new projects or new jobs over videoconference calls, so first impressions are important. So how do you make those impressions work for you? Pressler gives a few pieces of advice. “I’ve noticed with my company that people show up for interviews over video much differently than when they come to my office in person, and that should not be the case,” she says. It’s easier than ever to look good over video, she notes, because you only have to worry about what you look like from the waist up. In addition, finding the right eye level for your camera and using plenty of lighting will help make you look your best professionally. “You’re always communicating, even when you’re not communicating verbally,” she notes, “and now your environment is part of your outfit.”

Pressler also gives specific tips. “You always need to be at minimum business casual when you’re meeting with someone for the first time,” she says. “How you look communicates what you’re worth,” and you don’t want your interviewer to subconsciously think that you’re worth less because of the casualness of your appearance and surroundings.

While you don’t need to jettison your personal style, “wear the costume of the role you’re trying to get,” suggests Pressler. You can incorporate your style into it when it benefits you and helps you reach the goals you’re tying to achieve. “You want to look like you deserve what you’re asking for,” she said.

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