After the Nixon-Kennedy debates, those who heard the first debate on the radio proclaimed that Nixon was the winner, but for the people who saw the debate, Kennedy won. Even though the candidates were well-matched in substance, Kennedy showed up for the debate tan, rested, and well dressed. Nixon showed up after spending two weeks in the hospital. He looked ill and underweight, he wore an ill-fitting shirt, and he refused make-up to improve his color.
While a law firm webinar or teleconference may not be quite as important as a presidential debate, we can still learn a simple lesson from this event: Your personal appearance can be just as important as having the right technology, backdrop, setting, and lighting when communicating with clients via video.
I’ll leave the tech tips to Gerry Oginski, but for tips on how to look good on any camera, I called Laura Watson, a former model and fashion blogger for tips on how to put your best face forward whether you are sitting for a company photo, talking to a client over Skype, or giving a presentation on a webinar. Below are her suggestions:
Wear the Right Colors and Patterns
“Go easy on the eyes!” says Watson. If you want the viewer to actually hear what you are saying and not be distracted by your clothing, pick your colors and patterns wisely.
“Save that amazing floral blouse for a cocktail party and instead opt for shades and simple patterns that flatter your skintone and haircolor. Colors such as red, hot pink or neon colors are usually too bright, and busy patterns can be distracting to the viewer.” It is equally important to not wear colors that will “wash you out” or make your skin look bland. Avoid creams and whites unless you have dark or very tan skin.
Tame Your Mane
If you have bangs or if you are prone to flyaways, be sure to use a hair product that will keep your hair out of your face, and ultimately, your hands out of your hair. “I personally love to mix Bumble and Bumble Grooming creme with Bumble and Bumble Texture. It gives your hair texture and a little body while taming flyaways and making hair more manageable.”
Also, try to avoid pulling your hair straight back into a ponytail. This look is often unfortunate and and the truth is these styles can go one of two ways, glamorous or dowdy, but neither look is professional or appropriate for a law firm video. Watson advises men, “Grooming crème is great for you as well. And don’t be afraid to change up your hairstyle. Parting your hair if you don’t usually part it can really give you a handsome and polished look.”
Choose Your Make-Up Wisely
Make-up in the 60s was thick, cakey and often a bit over-the-top. Thankfully, most makeup companies today create lightweight formulas that are comfortable to wear and created with lights and cameras in mind. Mac, Make Up For Ever and Smashbox all carry HD-ready products that will help soften wrinkles and cover up blemishes.
“During photoshoots, I learned a little secret from makeup artists. It’s called Smashbox Photo Finish. Use this as a primer under your foundation whenever you will be in front of a camera. You will not regret it!” Also, pay attention to problem spots, and be sure to dust a bit of matifier on your T-zone (the top of your nose and forehead). “And, ladies,” Watson says, “don’t be shy. This is your opportunity to wear a bright shade on your lip. If you are not a MAC Lady Danger kind of girl, wear a flattering pink or berry shade. Nude lips are very hard to pull of on-camera.”
If, like Nixon, you refuse to use makeup, be sure that you get enough rest the night before your webcast or teleconference, and use eye drops to clear any redness in your eyes. You might also want to use an exfoliater like St. Ives Apricot Scrub. This will really brighten your complexion and even your skin tone.
Pay Attention to Posture.
Stand or sit up straight, angle yourself just a bit, lean slightly toward the camera, and try looking just above the camera with your chin tucked down. This posture will improve facial definition, minimize wrinkles, and avoid the dreaded double chin.
Make Direct Eye Contact and Smile
I once had a friend who is a news anchor tell me that news anchors are often the victims of stalkers more than actors because viewers at home tend to feel like the newscaster is talking directly to that person and often form deeper connections with people who look directly at the camera. You don’t want to attract any stalkers, of course, but by looking at the camera, you send a not-so-subtle message to the viewer that you are trustworthy and that you care about the viewer.
Finally, Watson reminds me, “Don’t forget to smile!” When you are sitting in the same room with someone, it is usually easy to use that person’s feedback as a reminder to smile and maintain eye contact. Unfortunately, when you have a camera lens or an image of yourself looking back at you on your computer screen, it can become easy to become distracted and lose focus on your audience, but something as simple as a smile can be the key to a captivated audience.