Photo by Patricia Porter
BY EMILY SQUANCE, BLOGGER
First impressions are everything! They have the ability to make or break a business, job interview or even a college application. Though there may be more interactions with that person in the future, the first impression lasts beyond the moment. When making a first impression, you’re branding yourself to whoever is receiving it, giving him or her a glimpse of who you are. But how do you ensure a good first impression when you can’t meet physically? This is a guide on how to perfect that first impression through the webcam.
One of the best ways to make a good first impression is to make sure your camera is on. Talking in front of large groups may cause students to have anxiety, especially on camera, but don’t fret! Turning on your camera doesn’t mean you have to be 100% engaged in every conversation but it does help your professor and classmates put a face to your name. When you’re able to put a face to your name, visualizing the importance of the course and what’s expected becomes easier. Students are more likely to feel comfortable with reaching out and asking for help when they know who they’re talking to, whether it be a classmate or professor. Without any face to face interaction courses can start to feel like they’re running on auto-pilot, making an effort to show your face can increase engagement and the overall experience of the course.
Background & Lighting
The background in the frame can say a lot about you and your interests. A bookcase, a piece of art or a blank wall leave impressions. They can even stray the attention away from you if it’s too busy. When unsure, choose a solid background with a pop of color. If you struggle with finding a background, try using a Zoom background filter.
An important detail to keep in mind is how you look and present yourself on camera. To optimize the way you look on camera you must master the art of lighting. I suggest using natural lighting to your advantage and avoid having your primary source of light behind you. Although it’s easier said than done, simply play around with your surroundings and find what works best for you.
We as humans tend to read more into what’s not said than what is. That’s why body language plays a key role in making a good first impression. Body language can say a lot about someone by giving us messages about the other person that we later interpret. When in a virtual meeting, try to exude confidence by sitting up straight and speaking loud and clear. If you’re hunched while speaking, you’ll appear less confident. It’s also important to give cues that you’re paying attention and relating to what others are saying. Remember, people want to be acknowledged just as much as you do. Showing the instructor that you care about the topic of conversation can help them see you’re actively listening.
The way we dress affects how people perceive us. Although only the upper half of your body is visible, try not to look like you just rolled out of bed. Throw a clean shirt on, properly groom and look presentable. Following these steps will indicate to others that you respect and feel good about yourself. Dressing in clothes that you feel comfortable in will help you be more confident in yourself. As they say, look good, feel good.
Watch For Nervous Behaviors
Let’s be honest, this form of education is new for all of us and the first few virtual meetings may be nerve racking. It’s okay to be nervous, just keep in mind that this is new for everyone involved. We all show our nerves in different ways, but most of us exude nonverbal cues: rubbing hands together, twirling hair, picking at fingernails, bouncing feet and even mouth-biting. By doing these things, it makes you look uninterested in the conversation. Most people don’t even realize they’re doing these things. Try to pay attention to these behaviors. If you find yourself unable to calm down, take a deep breath and remind yourself you’re not alone. When I catch myself doing these things, I try to become overly engaged in the conversation to take my mind off distractions.
The last tip of advice that I can give is to not be afraid to ask for help. These are unprecedented times for everyone, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask to repeat something you didn’t understand.