Just a week ago, most of us didn't know the term social distancing. Now it's part of our shared lexicon. I held my first online class with my graduate design students last week. My kids' school is canceled. Many of us are working remotely and becoming more fluent in it because of health precautions due to the coronavirus.
As a small business owner, you're now taking meetings, hosting talks, and even taking classes online. Being on camera is becoming second nature, which means you need to be ready for your close-up. Here is a checklist of eight simple things you can do to be camera-ready--and ready for business no matter where you are.
1. Curate your backdrop.
Remember you're on camera. Your background is part of the impression you're creating. It silently and symbolically communicates who you are. Be intentional about it. What do you want in the picture? Once you've made it visually clean, you can add little cues--your favorite books, a family photo, your awards, a nice map, a flower from your garden. It's all about how you want people to perceive you.
2. Change your posture often.
When you are not commuting, working from home means most of your day is spent sitting. And that's not the healthiest, nor the most energizing, posture to be in all day long. To look and feel energized, change your posture often and go from sitting to standing. You can do this by stacking some big books or a sturdy box under your laptop. I do it with an old Eames side table on top of my desk.
3. Remember to smile.
When I was designing the Resolve Office System, we interviewed call center providers and I learned this great trick from them. They use a mirror to remember to smile and communicate a positive attitude even when the person on the other side is upset or irate. It's easier to smile when you're talking to people in person, harder to do it when you're on the phone or on camera. Have a mirror handy and practice your smile.
4. It's great to see you!
Just like with emails, be more expressive of your positive feelings when communicating online. In person we give many silent cues to communicate warmth and generosity. These are harder to express online. Especially during these days of social distancing, it's doubly important to be more expressive and caring to make up for the physical distance.
5. Quiet on the set.
Most of us are not used to being home together during work hours. It's important to set boundaries and let your family know when you're in a meeting. Especially when working from the kitchen table or your living room. I found my family to be very accommodating, once they know I need them to be quiet and "out of the picture."
6. Make time for social chats.
One thing that's hard to do remotely is to have conversations by the water cooler. It's not easy to laugh and joke remotely. Make time to talk about your feelings, share anecdotes and be funny with your team and close collaborators. Schedule 10-minute virtual breaks for everyone to connect just to chat and relax together.
7. Show your face.
Seeing each other creates a closer remote experience. It's easier to look eye-to-eye and know the other person is paying attention, and not on their phone or email. Even though it's optional, turning the video on is good virtual manners. So is muting yourself when you're not speaking.
8. Look your best.
Even though you are at home and could stay in your pajamas, do dress up for work. Look your best for yourself and for others. After all, it is showtime.
Here is my visual map of the tips. I keep it as my daily reminder, and you can print it as your cheat sheet.