I don’t know about you, but I think there are so many opportunities for us to be better online. The world has changed. We are all spending so much more time online than 2 years ago. Yet I’m not convinced that everybody is perhaps as comfortable or confident as they could be. Further, this is having an impact on reputation, leadership impact and possibility, that they may not even be aware of.
I’ve been working online for more than a decade, and during 2020 and 2021 I have delivered more online workshops, keynotes, training, webcasts and coaching than ever. I have noticed there are a few areas that do not seem to be improving. Things that would give so many leaders the opportunity to really elevate how they are showing up online. And this elevation is important because online is a significant part of the future of work. To remain relevant and be leading you need to be showing up at your best. You need to be leading the space.
I was on a webcast recently and there were a number of participants who were effectively sitting in the dark. I could hardly see their faces, which means other participants could not see them either. If you are a leader and you are in the dark, then how can you lead the space?
You wouldn’t go into a physical meeting room and sit in a chair that was so low you could hardly see over the table. You would raise the chair so you could be part of the group, right? So that you can have a presence in the space, be influential in the meeting and contribute because people could see you and feel your presence. Well, you want exactly the same thing online.
A study from PWC found that more than 55% of people want to spend more than 50% of their time working from home. So, from now on that means you are always going to have an element of online working, even if you are in the office yourself. You are never going to be working 100% face to face again.
So today I have a few really quick tips that will elevate the way that you are showing up. These ideas will give you a little bit more confidence and, certainly, credibility as a leader in the online space.
1. Camera Angle
The first one is about getting your camera angle right. Whether you are using a mobile device or a laptop or Mac, you need to get the camera at your eye level. It doesn’t matter whether you have a separate webcam, camera, a built-in camera, or a phone, the principle is the same. And if that means you need to stack some books under your laptop then do that. You want to look down the barrel of the camera. This means your participants, colleagues and peers won’t be either looking down on you or looking up your nose.
2. Face the light
The second thing is always face the light, so your face can be seen. Others can see your expressions and see that you are participating. This is about creating connection and communication. So, face the light. Joining your online session with insufficient light is like sitting behind someone in a meeting room, people can’t see you and don’t know that you have something to contribute, and you are certainly not leading.
Instead face a window with natural light if you can. If you need to use additional lighting then use a desk lamp, or standard lamps in front of you. This does not need to be an expensive solution, but there does need to be a solution that allows people to see you clearly. You do need to put in some effort so people know you are showing up as the leader.
3. Clear audio
Of course, you want to make sure that you can hear clearly and that people can hear you clearly. One of the most frustrating things for people when you are online is if they cannot hear you clearly. It is more frustrating than the video element. Make sure that you have a good headset or a good microphone and speakers. Both work, whichever you prefer to use, wherever you are. There is really no reason not to have a decent set of audio resources today.
4. Look into the camera
My final tip is a simple one with enormous impact. I find many people are still looking at their screen, to the gallery of their video session, rather than into the camera. What this means is the other people in your online session don’t see you looking at them. Not looking into your camera means you are not looking at them. It is very important that you look into the camera because this is creating eye contact. Eye contact creates connection, communication, and trust, developing the potential for you to do great things in your leadership.
Have a practice of this. You will get used to it. Look into the camera, and only glance to the gallery view. Spend more of your time looking into the camera lens.
Try these quick tips to get you showing up with more presence and confidence, becoming a more credible leader in the online space.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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