As many of us continue to work from home, and utilize virtual meeting spaces, consider polishing your look a bit for the change in season and to make the best impression possible. According to a recent Greater Washington Partnership survey of 430 businesses, more than 70% of DC area offices report they may not return to work full-time until next summer. This means even if you begin a gradual return your office building, Zoom and other virtual meetings will be a large part of most people’s work life, not to mention the networking, seminars, and other groups that rely on virtual meetings to maintain contact.
For professional meetings, it is important to remember that you should dress for a Zoom or other virtual call just as you would if it were in person. If you normally wore a suit to lead a meeting or attend one, you should do the same for a virtual one. There was some relaxation of dress codes when companies moved to online work, but leaders in industries are looking for ways to convey to employees that hoodies and what appear to be robes are not a good look, and likely won’t help your credibility or land a promotion.
For both women and men, a crisp white or pastel shirt is always a good choice, and fall is a great time to refresh. Solids and subtle stripes are a better choice than large prints. For men, a great tie or a cardigan can convey seriousness but also texture that is needed on the small screen. A scarf or medium-sized statement necklace for women can really add pizzazz. For more casual businesses, lightweight sweaters in fall hues will be not only eye-catching, but convey a sense of connection with the outer world, even if you haven’t actually left your ‘office’ in days.
While many of us have not been able to maintain our regular routine of hair care, it is important that you look neat and polished, whether the hair on your head or face is much longer than ever before. It’s a good idea to keep it neater and more low-key that you would normally, as our cameras tend to exaggerate dimensions a bit!
Regarding cameras, you should endeavor to place yours at eye-level if possible, so viewers see your face head on, and not your neck and chin. You want those you are meeting with to listen to what you are saying, and be able to look you in the eye, not feeling the need to avert their eyes from cleavage, or trying to figure out what’s on the wall and ceiling behind you. Remembering our ‘good manners’ quote, think again of what meetings were like BZ (before Zoom) — did you drink a Big Gulp while colleagues spoke? did you frequently get up from your seat and walk around? or look down at your cell phone for several minutes at a time? Out of respect for your fellow meeting attendees, don’t do it virtually either. These behaviors not only distract others, but convey that you may not be paying attention or are not interested.
As we continue to navigate these changing times, it is great to remember that we are truly in this together! Considering your appearance and behavior for virtual meetings is not superficial, but rather offers those you are interacting with respect and a pleasant experience that makes everyone’s experience better.