63% of HR managers are now conducting their interviews by video. So, just when you’ve perfected your handshake and you’ve learnt how to walk into a room with confidence, you’re asked to sit in front of a computer and present to a webcam! The idea may be frightening at first, what with all the pitfalls of technology and the lack of personal contact, but we’re here to give you some tips so that you can ace any interview or meeting, anywhere, at any time. Here’s 3 quick steps on how to present online.
Step 1: Perfect your image
- The person on the other side of the screen needs to see you. Make sure you’re sat in a well-lit environment, not just a tiny corner with a desk lamp, even if that is where you usually work!
- Think about your setting. What impression do you want to give? In any case, you’ll want to make sure your environment is clean and tidy; but if you want to appear interesting, try sitting in front of a bookshelf. Make sure however, that you don’t pick a distracting setting. If in doubt, use a plain wall. (And if you’re in your bedroom, don’t leave your dressing gown on the back of your door! We’ve seen it happen and it doesn’t look good!)
- So, what are you going to wear? The first thing to remember is: Dress from head to toe. You don’t want to become famous as the person who was caught in their underwear when they had to stand up during a video meeting! The second rule is: Don’t be too formal. Of course you need to look presentable, but wearing a suit in your own home just looks unnatural. Opt for something smart and chic, but simple. Bright colours and patterns don’t work well through a webcam lens, and you don’t want to annoy your interviewer before you’ve even said a word!
- You’re sitting down and your legs aren’t visible, so body language doesn’t matter, right? Wrong. Now, more than ever, you need to be making sure that your body is giving off the right impression, because when you’re sat in a chair, you may end up slouching and getting too comfortable, without even realising it. Never sit on your hands, and make sure you’re leaning forward slightly with a straight back.
- Maintain eye contact! If you’re afraid of looking down at your notes the whole time, stick them up on the wall behind your computer, level with your eye line. If there isn’t a wall there, use a recipe book holder or a similar stand which can hold documents. You may also find it distracting if you can see yourself on the screen. If you can, close the chat window or find a way to cover up the image of yourself, you don’t want to be fiddling with your hair and missing important questions!
Step 2: Sort out your Sound
- The only sound you want your audience to hear is your voice! So shut those windows, turn off your phone, and tell everyone in the house to be quiet until you say so!
- Speaking of other people in the house: Warn them that you’re in a meeting! The last thing you want is for someone you live or work with to burst in on your meeting, or to start downloading something on the internet and slowing down your connection! Warn everyone in the house about your meeting or interview to avoid disaster!
- Now is not the time to mumble or rush your words. Speak more slowly and clearly than you would in a face-to-face situation, because it’s almost guaranteed that your microphone will make you sound slightly muffled (just think how others sound when you’re on the phone to them!) Diction and clarity will be your best friends in these situations, it might sound strange to you but your audience will be grateful when they don’t have to ask you to repeat yourself every five seconds.
Step 3: Prepare for the worst
- There’s a chance that the person you’re talking to may end up going ‘out of sync’ (where the image and sound become disconnected from each other so you see them speak before you hear them, or vice versa). If this happens, you’ll need to pause at the end of your sentences and wait for their reply, or else risk constantly interrupting them! Pauses are great when speaking anyway, as they give you more time to think about what you’re going to say next, and they make it easier for your audience to take in and consider what you’re saying.
- Practise with a friend – if you’re worried about your camera, microphone or internet connection letting you down mid-session, practise beforehand with a friend. This will also help your image as they will be able to give you an honest opinion on the way you look and sound. Not to mention that a bit of practise will help to boost your confidence when it comes to the real thing!
(Credit to Hannah Woodside of Glamour Magazine)