Is Your Virtual Presence Half-Baked? Here’s How to Tell

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This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, so, to all mothers out there, a belated “Happy Mother’s Day!”



Most of us probably have a memory in mind of mom putting dinner on the table, or baking cupcakes together with us as kids. Personally, I love cooking for my family, but despite an enormous sweet tooth, I’m a much better chef than baker. Why? Because baking is a more precise science, where every measurement has to be just right, whereas savory cooking allows for a lot more flexibility and estimation, which is more my style in the kitchen.



The funny thing is that you also have to “cook up” your on-screen image, and to me it’s a good blend of the precision of baking and the creative flexibility of cooking. While there isn’t an exact recipe that you can use to establish your ideal virtual brand, there’s a basic formula you can follow. Think of it like this:



  • 1 part camera angles: the top of your head should be much closer to the top of the screen than your chin is to the bottom, and the camera should be high enough that it looks at your head-on, not aiming up at you, which gets a lens full of ceiling.
  • 2 parts lighting: Make sure your face is well lit so we can clearly see your expressions, and balance the lighting around you so you don’t look like you’re in a cave, or are otherwise so back-lit from a giant picture window that it hurts our eyes.
  • 3 parts sound: Bad sound is like making a sandwich using bread that’s been sitting on the counter for three days: stale and most definitely unappealing! Sound is crucial, whether or not your camera is on. Do NOT trust the embedded mic in your laptop; the sound is guaranteed to be terrible, and it’s a constant deterrent that makes people want to STOP listening to you, which undermines your reputation and impact. Invest in yourself by investing in a microphone that does you justice.
  • 1 part background: You don’t need a full-scale studio, but you do want something clean, simple and professional. Whether a basic 4-5 panel room-divider you can fold up and put away when you’re done, or just a window with the curtains closed, you want something that doesn’t distract the audience’s attention away from you. Sometimes virtual backgrounds are more distracting than whatever is actually behind you, so use them judiciously.
  • 3 parts high-quality message content: (Do I really need to explain this?)
  • 1 part each Confidence, Humor and Authenticity: Because you need to take your content seriously (salt) but not take yourself too seriously (sugar), and authenticity binds it all together.

Remember, you don’t want to look and sound half-baked on video. So follow this basic recipe but give it your own twist to suit your taste and the occasion, to give your audience a “perfectly-baked,” most satisfying version of YOU.



And of course, if you want to go from a basic recipe for virtual presence to one that’s worthy of a Michelin Star of its own, you can always check out and scroll down to the table of contents at the bottom to see the incredible range of “ingredients” you never even knew were in your “video kitchen”!



Now one thing you might have noticed is that there was no new Speaking to Influence podcast episode today. That’s because – incredible though it seems – we’re wrapping up our first full year of the show and are taking the last few weeks of May to look over all we’ve achieved, and make some new and exciting changes to the format of the show to make Season 2 even more exciting and impactful for you!



If you have some suggestions for guests, topics, questions or other things you’d like to hear on the show, let us know!



Stay tuned for a sneak preview into upcoming guests. Here’s one hint: have you read The E-Myth or The E-Myth Revisited? If you’re an entrepreneur or thinking of hanging out a shingle for yourself one of these days, you really, really need to read it, and listen to our podcast episode!



Want another hint? Maybe you want to know what the top female CISOs in some of the largest corporations in the world say about which leadership communication skills are most important in the information security realm. All this and more coming in Season 2 starting in June.



And in the interim, you can also catch other amazing guests you may have missed the first time around, such as David Cohen from Comcast, Jackie Linton of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), Sam King of Veracode, and Janet Salazar from the United Nations. You won’t want to miss it, so be sure to check out and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.



Here’s to your success,


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