Personal Branding for Remote Meetings is part 13 of our series on Remote Meetings:
• Part 1: Remote and Hybrid Team Meeting Tips
• Part 7: Manage Remote Meeting Logistics
• Part 10: Remote Meeting Decision-Making
• Part 12: 8 Tips for Managing Hybrid Meetings
Forging and promoting a personal brand that stands out and moves you toward your career goals takes a lot of planning and hard work.
Whether you want to be seen as business-savvy, hard-working, supportive, innovative, knowledgeable, resourceful, dependable, creative, decisive, or strategic, being intentional about how you present yourself in virtual meetings is essential.
Yet most people don’t realize that every meeting they attend provides a great opportunity to promote your personal brand and, unfortunately, to sabotage it as well.
Is the personal brand you want to project coming through clearly in remote meetings?
Let’s take a quick look at the definition of personal branding.
What is Personal Branding?
Wikipedia defines personal branding as “the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, widen their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.”
Unfortunately, you may be unconsciously “trashing” the personal brand that you’ve so carefully crafted when you’re in remote meetings you attend.
Even the young tech-immersed generations seem to need reminders on how not to destroy their personal brand.
I just did an informational Zoom interview with a college student (who uses Zoom regularly for classes) in which she left her camera showing just the upper half of her face for the entire hour. Then, she couldn’t ask her next question because her cat was sitting on her notes (she has a mean cat that she was afraid to move).
Some of the following personal branding tips for remote meetings may be obvious, but from what I’m seeing out there, there are many folks who need at least one (if not all) of these reminders.
Manage Your Content / Messaging in Remote Meetings
When you’re in a Remote Meeting, make sure that the content you share represents who you are and/or how you want to be seen (your personal brand).
Content can include ideas, examples, stories, solutions to problems, process improvements, supporting data, and speeches. It can also include media such PowerPoint decks, graphs and charts, illustrations, flowcharts, white papers, articles, and videos.
Ensure what you share in meetings is clear, succinct, and professional. Also, most importantly, make sure your messages align with and enhance your personal brand.
Where possible, subtly tie your message(s) for the meeting back to your personal brand.
For example, if you’re branding yourself as collaborative, share how you worked with several departments to create a solution to a pressing problem, then say something like “we solved this issue by working together, which aligns with how I want to approach all cross-functional problems.”
You could also display your collaboration skills by blending your ideas with others’ ideas.
If you’re branding yourself as strategic, don’t just present what you’re doing in your PowerPoint, put it into the context of the larger organization and even in the context of your competitors.
Ensure Your Remote Meeting Background is Professional
Personal branding for remote meetings includes more than just YOU. Make sure the room you’re sitting in is clean and organized, even if you’re using a green screen.
Use an office oriented background provided by your videoconference platform or upload a custom background that supports your brand.
For example, if you want to be known as an analytical thinker, consider using a background of bookshelves or something that reflects your industry (e.g., a graph, an architectural drawing, or a microscope) for remote meetings.
Remote Meeting AI Name Tag
If you’re doing a Zoom meeting you can create an AI name tag (from Warmly) that gives your credentials, your education, a summary of your experience, a tagline, or even an original thought you’ve had about your industry (or the current meeting topic). Be on the lookout for online name tags to become available on other platforms.
Demonstrate that You’re Focused on the Remote Meeting
While in a virtual meeting, turn off your cell ring tone and notifications, and avoid looking at email or other documents.
In addition, avoid behaviors like tapping a pen, staring off into space, closing your eyes, and looking around the room which all can visually indicate to other participants or the meeting leader that you’re not paying attention.
Creating the impression that you’re not paying attention may frustrate the meeting leader and create lack of trust in the other meeting participants.
When Others Talk, Show Them You’re Listening
Show the speaker support by looking them in the eyes (looking into the camera, not your screen). This will build rapport, which builds your relationship with the person.
The trick is to position the camera as close to the image of the speaker as possible.
Deliberately Position Yourself for the Camera
Ensure you are positioned in relation to the camera so that your body language and facial expressions can be seen on the videoconference platform. By standing or sitting at an acute angle to the camera, you can replicate the optimal seating in a face-to-face meeting.
In addition, ensure you look your best, by placing the camera about two inches above eye level (to hide your double chin). Also, put some distance between you and the camera to create a sense of 3D space.
Furthermore, when you look at your image onscreen, it should include some space above your head and show your shoulders.
Dress Professionally for Remote Meetings
Admittedly, remote meetings are more casual than in person meetings, but you have to remember that how you look on camera still impacts how your superiors and colleagues think of you.
When the COO is interviewing you for a step up, the baseball cap, low cut top, or shredded T-shirt you wore to a meeting may pop up in their mind, or may more subtly impact their impression of how you will represent the company or how hard you work.
They old adage is “dress for success.”
Your grandmother wasn’t wrong! Slouching or sitting in odd positions can suggest that you’re not engaged, you don’t care, or you do sloppy work.
Speaking about sitting in unprofessional positions…one of our Leadership coaches attended a company meeting to give their client feedback and one of his direct reports sat with his bare feet up on his desk. His face was barely visible.
When it was time for the client to fill a position for a new manager, he quickly skipped over “feet on desk man.”
It’s interesting that people will do things in remote meetings that they’d never do in an in person meeting!
Don’t Eat or Chew Gum in Virtual Meetings
While on camera — especially if your microphone is on — avoid eating or chewing gum. The sound may be distracting and it doesn’t make you look professional.
Chewing may also project an image to others that you don’t care about the team, the issues being addressed, or your job.
Limit Your Interruptions
Implement a “no fly zone” for kids, pets, and spouses during remote meetings, so that there are no interruptions. This also helps establish your home office as a space dedicated to work, which can help you be more productive.
Barking dogs, cats sitting on your presentation outline, or spouses asking what you want for dinner don’t project a professional image.
Don’t Forget to Wear Pants!
There are at least 2 or 3 of you who are reading this article who have made this mistake. You know who you are!
Ok, I’m guilty of this one. I had an important meeting with a customer.
I carefully did my hair and makeup, added earrings and a necklace to my black jacket with a red “power” shirt underneath.
In the middle of the meeting I needed to go get some notes I left in the other room.
When I got up, the meeting participants got a full view of my white — shorts —.
It could have been worse!!!!
Closing Thoughts on Personal Branding for Remote Meetings
Personal branding expert William Arruda says that the “ultimate key to building your personal brand in our WFA [work from anywhere] world is to make sure there is congruence between the real and virtual.” By making sure the details are congruous with your desired personal brand, you will “convey your brilliance, authenticity and differentiation.”