Ladies Put On Your Lipstick! Men Take Off Your Cap! 
by Vickie Bouffard 

How you look is as important as what you have to say. Science has proven that your appearance is influential to the audience. We typically don’t trust a doctor who walks into an exam room in flip flops and shorts. We can’t take him seriously. If he was a “doctor” of surfboards, he might have creditability. We want to see doctors professionally dressed, which contributes to their creditability. To ensure you’re taken seriously as a professional, it’s wise to craft your image to match your title, education, and profession. 

It’s especially important to consider your professional image as video conferences trend toward a new norm. While a work from home environment means we can often be more relaxed and dress more casually, there are critical times when you must convey professionalism. Don’t take Zoom calls for granted. Here are four easy tips to help you maintain professionalism while working from home. 

1. Get dressed! 
Act as if you were going to work – at least for the top half! Nothing screams unprofessional like when you join a Zoom call with your ball cap and workout clothes on because you were too lazy to get dressed or do your hair and makeup. At least put a nice shirt on, fix your hair, and yes, a little lipstick makes a big difference on a video conferencing call. Men take off your hat, the visor shades your eyes. It’s a small thing, but it has a big impact. It is a subtle touch of professionalism. Make an effort to shoot for a polished look! 
 2. Look behind you! 
A spouse might be changing their clothes in the background, or a pile of dirty clothes might have crept into view. Your co-workers see you, and whatever is behind you! Look behind you to verify if you should remove anything inappropriate or distracting. You want participants to focus on you and what you are saying, not trying to interpret the funny poster or photo in the background. Even if you think it is too small to read – that is what makes it distracting. People will stare at it, trying to figure out what it says – while they ignore you! Remove it. 

3. Frame the camera! 
Ensure the camera frames you in a flattering manner. Make sure the camera view doesn’t look up your nostrils, at your chin, or stare up at the ceiling. Sit at eye level, so the camera is neither too high nor too low. Your goal here is to be intentional about avoiding awkward and unflattering angles. Also, if the camera only shows your profile, then other participants might feel you aren’t paying attention, even when you are. 

4. Check the lighting! 
How dark or sunny is your workspace? Does the light in this area enhance your face, or make it difficult to see you? Is a bright glow making you look harsh & washed out? Does dim light make you seem disengaged or related to vampires? No amount of makeup cures harsh or dark lighting. Experiment with the position and styles of video conference light to ensure your viewers perceive a complimentary, engaging image. Follow these four tips, and your colleagues, clients, and business acquaintances will continue to view you as the professional you are. Don’t give in to casualness! Ladies put on your lipstick; you will be glad you did!

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