How NOT to look like an amateur online!

How NOT to look like an amateur online!
By Bill Black

COVID has thrust us all into the virtual realm and, whether you are a leader or a
member of the team, how we present ourselves remains an important factor. When online
we are still, for the most part, in a professional setting yet not everyone has been able to make
the switch.

You can spend thousands on a setup but no-one is expecting Hollywood level
productions so a few tips and a few hundred dollars can make a huge difference. As we are likely
to be using virtual as a primary communication tool the investment will be more than

First of all think of it like a combination of etiquette and “dress code” for
virtual presence.


1. Try not to look like you are working from home – wear the same type of outfit that you would
for work.
2. Be present and attentive with video on – this is meant to be virtual presence after all.
3. Practice – get comfortable with the main platforms – Zoom, Teams etc they all have tutorials.
4. Camera at eye height – Be properly framed in the window – either raise your laptop or buy a
decent webcam and mount it at eye height.
5. Lighting – do not have a window or source of light behind you – silhouettes are not engaging
– change your position and invest in some additional lighting that will improve the
image quality significantly.
6. Internet – Do not rely on wifi – get a hard wire connection and a fast connection if it is
7. Sound – buy a proper microphone and some separate speakers – sound quality is
important for you and the others on the call.
8. Background – pay attention to your background – the fake backgrounds are NOT a solution.
9. If you are back in the office or splitting your time between office and home, as many are,
then duplicate the same setup.

“Think of it like combining etiquette and dress code for virtual presence”


SHOPPING LIST – c/w links

1. At least 2 flat screens – proper size for your setup and good resolution.
2. Laptop stand – a simple pile of books or a proper laptop stand.
3. Webcam – Buy a good camera – a better webcam will also allow you to record video etc which be
be of value in other communication. If possible also use a proper mount that will give you better
4. Mic – USB mic on a stand or a boom arm depending on preference – headphones and a boom mic are
less natural, often make you sound too loud and prevent you hearing any background noise that may
disrupt the meeting for others.
5. Speakers –A broad range is available – good quality speakers are important.
6. Lighting – 1 or 2 ring lights depending on your room.
7. Background – rearrange your room to improve the appearance.

If you have to start from scratch with all these items the total cost will range between
$350 and $900 – plus monitors, if needed – $150 -$350 each and any upgrade to

There are other resources online – many of them fairly substantial but these ideas are hopefully
going to be of some help in upping your game.

Wishing everyone continued health and success – see you all online.

Article by Lena Hogarth
October 14, 2020

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