Five Easy Fixes for Your Virtual Meeting Presence

A man sits in front of a computer and waves to his co-workers during a video meeting

When the pandemic turned virtual sales meetings into a new normal, it created a new challenge for sales professionals to deliver an exceptional virtual customer experience. Since sales professionals are not Hollywood producers, many online meetings are woefully unprofessional. The content may be great, but the overall appearance may be a turn-off.

The more polished, credible, and trustworthy you appear on video conference calls, the more positive your client engagements will be.

The key question is: What do you want your virtual presence to say about you?

If you find the “always on” nature of attending virtual meetings a hard pill to swallow, try a slight shift in mindset. Intentionally create a welcoming and non-distracting “Zoom room.” This will not only improve your overall remote presence – making it easier to engage with you – but, more importantly, will increase your confidence and close rates.

“First impressions matter” is truer than ever in this new virtual world. Fifty-five percent of first impressions are related to how you look – your appearance, posture, expressions, and reactions – and it takes less than a second for a person to decide whether to trust you.

Set yourself and your team apart from the crowd of distracting “Zoom rooms.” Visual and audio distractions can put a dent in your credibility and trustworthiness – leading to less engagement and lower sales. We’ve all been on video conference calls where we find ourselves looking up someone’s nose, distracted by their poor lighting or poor sound quality.

Set yourselves up for success with these five makeover strategies for effective and engaging virtual sales meetings.

1. Camera Angle and Trust

Research from Ramlatchan and Watson in The Journal of Applied Instructional Design (2020) shows participants are rated as most trustworthy when viewers see the subject at eye level. Seeing your client’s face and upper torso helps you read their non-verbal cues and gauge their reactions, interest, and level of credibility.

  • Sit about arm’s length from the camera lens.
  • Frame yourself so your eyes are in the top third of the meeting window.
  • Look directly into the camera.
  • Leave a little bit of space above your head (also known as “headroom”).
  • The bottom of the video window should be just below armpit level.

Before and After

A before and after image of a woman on a video screen
©Shelley Golden  

2. Lighting

Lighting is a critical element of trustworthiness. Good lighting illuminates your eyes and face evenly – making it less distracting and easier to engage.

  • Sit facing a window, if possible.
  • Purchase an LED video light to be able to change the temperature and hue from cool (white) to warm (yellow-orange).
  • If you wear glasses (or facing a window isn’t an option) position two lights, one on each side, slightly higher than your head – angled downward at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.
  • If you don’t wear glasses, it’s OK to have the light source directly in front of you.
  • The “Touch up my appearance” button in Zoom’s video settings helps reduce wrinkles and softens your skin.
  • Super Tip: Place fuchsia and bright yellow sticky notes over portions of your lights to create a peachy, more natural skin tone. This works for all shades of skin.
A horizontal light is partially covered up with pink and yellow sticky notes
©Shelley Golden

3. Sound

How crisp and clear you sound to others is as important as how you look.

  • An external microphone such as a clip-on lavalier or earbuds will improve the sound and reduce background noise.
  • Check your video conferencing platform for the “noise suppression” option.
  • Use the “suppress background” feature to remove distracting background noises.

4. Background

What appears in the background of your remote conferencing window says a lot about you. Most spaces can look professional – even a repurposed storage room or closet. A cryptocurrency trader I advised had been working in his nondescript dark basement. By purchasing appropriate lighting, an elegant credenza, wall art, and a blooming orchid, we transformed the space with the look of a sophisticated high-end office.

  • Keep background bookshelves organized with books in a vertical position; limit knickknacks and picture frames.
  • Remove glass-framed photographs and certificates to reduce glare and reflection from lights.
  • Add style with an abstract piece of art placed off-center.
  • Add a plant.
  • Wear contrasting colored clothing to stand out against the background.
  • The “blur” feature in Zoom’s virtual backgrounds tab is a good option if you don’t have a professional background.
  • Limit use of virtual backgrounds, as they make you appear less trustworthy.
  • If you need a virtual background, purchase a green screen to reduce visual distortions.

5. Best Clothing for Virtual Conferencing

Have others focus on you and what you say rather than on what you’re wearing.

  • Wear solid colors.
  • Avoid wearing black and white – black makes it difficult to read your body language, and white makes you look washed out.
  • Avoid wearing large patterns such as plaids, stripes, or busy patterns.
  • Avoid tank tops and T-shirts. They are unprofessional.
  • Wear minimal accessories – avoiding glitzy, flashy, and noisy jewelry.
  • Apply simple and minimal make-up.
  • Wear lipstick to emphasize your lips, but avoid shiny lip gloss and frosted eye shadow, as it comes off looking white in the camera, unless you have extremely dark skin.

Accelerate success each time you jump on a sales call. By intentionally taking control of how you show up online, you give yourself, your team, your customers, and everyone you communicate with the best possible opportunity for more successful online engagements – creating a win-win on both sides of the screen.

Shelley Golden is a professional presence consultant and video conferencing makeover expert who helps professionals elevate their image in person and online. For more information, visit her Website or connect with her on LinkedIn.