How to Stay Connected to Look and Feel Your Best on Video
As we mentioned in this post, we were able to do a couple of video speaking engagements while we took a break from posting. One focused on using vintage pieces to find your signature style. The other was more career-oriented, specific to looking and feeling your best while on video calls. Both touched on the importance of personal style to help build confidence and feel more powerful and “in charge” no matter what your day looks like. And since remote work is the new normal, we have added our best tips for staying mentally connected to people you are used to interacting with daily.
The amazing Patricia V. Hayes is an executive advisor and empowerment coach who provides strategic advising to leaders, as well as professional mentoring and career coaching to empowered women. The session was called “Face Forward: Looking Good for the Camera and Your Career,” and you can watch Jennifer’s video below:
Even before live pre-Zoom, everyone needed at least a good headshot. It does not matter what you do, what line of work you are in – parenting included – you need to look presentable on camera. And again, before work from home life became the default, we were becoming more and more active on video calls. This is especially true for Ellen when she decided to try her hand at corporate communications in the tech sector. She is even guilty of video calling in to a meeting from her desk that was happening in a conference room in the same office! Looking and feeling your best on camera is an important skill in today’s world and is only becoming more important.
A quick pointer from Ellen as health issues prevented her from being a part of the presentation:
I am a control freak, so I have really embraced this part of Zoom or other video conferences. If you want to look your best, then just take control….. of your environment, that is. No longer must you fall prey to the overhead florescent lighting gods. Control the lighting, control the angle you present so that you can show your best side. Elongate your neck and control your profile. Take up space in the frame by controlling your posture. Practice in a mirror or with your camera phone. I feel most in control when I am prepared and looking your best is something you can prepare for.
But it should not and is not just about looking good. We need to keep our emotions and overall mental state feeling good as well. And if you are like us, you have those moments when you start to feel isolated and alone. This can grow into anxiety, stress, and panic – when really all you need is basic human interaction – something even us introverts realize we took advantage of.
So here are our tips for feeling connected to co-workers and other colleagues. People that until the beginning of the year, many of us in traditional office settings were spending more time with than during daylight hours than our own families! Feeling their absence is to be expected.
Schedule time to BS. From Ellen I miss my coworkers. I miss face-to-face meetings. I miss everything from the small talk to the therapeutic venting that happens when you walk to grab lunch together. For a dose of #perspective, missing colleagues is a good problem to have. It is a sign of a positive and fulfilling work environment.
So rather than see the inevitable chitchat that will happen during a video call as “wasting valuable meeting time,” we suggest officially adding it to agenda. Embrace the chatter as part of overall organizational health, rather than stress about it. For a typical hour meeting, we suggest scheduling 15-20 minutes of BS Time at the beginning of the meeting. Ellen swears that she has seen not only an increase in productivity during the remaining 40-ish minutes but throughout the rest of the week.
A few additional suggestions to the BSing:
Keep the talk non-work related. Catch up on books you are reading, or television shows you are currently binging, favorite online shopping sites, and beauty products. People have Slack and other DMs to complain about work, so we suggest keeping this time 100% personal.
Stay away from potentially stressful topics. Most companies are giving official Covid updates anyway, so we suggest staying away from anymore pandemic talk. Similarly, most of us are worried about the overall state of the world, so try and make the BS time refreshing and not a rehash of how things suck.
Use your words. Not just parenting advice anymore. Non-verbals are just not communicated over video, so we never realized how much we depend upon them until now. To make up for that, we suggest over-communicating with your team in a positive manner. Whether it is general feedback, a compliment, recognition, or just encouragement, in addition to taking the time to say these things outright during a meeting, send that positivity in an email. It feels so good to both the receiver and the sender!
Ask for recommendations from your team. Tensions are high and people can easily feel barked at because of the impersonal nature of video meetings and overall disjointed feelings. Instead of telling someone what to do, present a problem that needs a solution, and ask for recommendations. When people feel ownership over their job, job satisfaction increases. This is especially true if you are managing multiple independent contractors/consultants who have their own workload to juggle.
Always share the why. More often than not, shit just must get done. And it isn’t always fun or pretty or convenient. When communicating instructions and deadlines, especially for the less attractive tasks, share the why or the context behind the task. This encourages understanding and increases transparency among team members. This also helps everyone understand how they are contributing to the big picture. Jennifer was once taught that the easiest way to begin to communicate the why is to add the phrase “in order to” when assigning tasks as this forces you to include the desired outcome.
Embrace autonomy. Remote working = new levels of autonomy that feels unusual to many employees both seasoned and new. This can be both exciting and confusing. Allow yourself and your team to organize their days in a way that best aligns with their attention and energy. Encourage compassion and understanding within your team that everyone’s workday might look different because everyone’s life is different. Our new normal has those two things more intimately entwined than ever before. Foster the thought that work should not completely consume our days, as our families and loved ones need us now more than ever.
Report on the outside world. The news is changing day-by-day, minute-by-minute. Industries are rapidly evolving to meet the needs of not only their customers but their employees as well. At first, we assigned one “reporter” to review the news for any sector-specific insights. We still have this program, but due to the length of lock down, we have decided to rotate the position amongst team members for the foreseeable future. The goal of the reporter is to essentially report back what they are learning from professional sources and talk about what this news means for your industry or even your company specifically. Encouraging dialogue on a topic that is often distressing will again foster transparency within your team and hopefully assure people that their job is not in jeopardy.
Staying sane in our new normal can be difficult but is not impossible. We hope you find these tips helpful for both your confidence and your mental health. We hope you will share your tips for staying looking and feeling your best during this time. We want to help ensure that everyone in our little community feels connected in ways that allows productivity to grow, both personally or professionally.
Images by Breezy Ritter