employees looking at phonesIn last month’s post, I introduced the concept of managing your “virtual presence” when working remotely or interacting with remote workers. In this issue, we’ll focus on how.

To build your professional presence across the miles, there are 4 areas of focus. You must:

  1. Manage Expectations
  2. Manage the Content
  3. Manage Your Voice
  4. Manage Your Visuals

In this post, we’ll start at the bottom of the list with #4 – Managing Your Visuals.
Take a look at the picture at the top of this article. A very common scenario: People in a meeting room looking at the conference phone… even though the man at the head of the table is talking. You can tell by his hands.

But why is everyone looking at the phone? Because the speaker is looking at the phone! He is visually signaling the people in the room to look down. He’s not doing it deliberately. It’s our nature to look at the person with whom we are conversing, and in this case, the voice is coming through the phone.

Big deal, you’re likely thinking.

It is a big deal. The people looking down are all missing vital visual cues that only the folks in the room can see. How does the speaker feel about the topic? How do colleagues feel? Are they aligned? Confused? Happy? Frustrated? We can’t know unless we pick up on the micro-expressions flitting across the others’ faces. Make the effort to maintain visual contact with others in the room when you are lucky enough to be with them in person.

Remote workers: How can you feel more visually connected?
TIP 1. If available, pull up a picture of the folks on the phone via your company’s telephone directory. Many of these have photos now. I also use LinkedIn to get a visual, and then I talk to that smiling face! If your LinkedIn profile is missing your picture, consider putting it up to help others relate to you from a distance.
TIP 2. If available, choose Facetime, Microsoft Teams, or Skype to video chat. Then be sure you manage that visual profile by creating a well-lit and well-positioned face shot backed by a clutter-free background.
TIP 3. Prepare a visually attractive handout for others to look at during the call, and perhaps put your headshot on that. Again, visual data helps complete our picture of you.

Watch for next month’s newsletter for more practical how-to’s!

Questions in the meantime? Click here to let me know.