25 Mar Working Virtually In Your Own Space
Written by: Nick Jermyn, Faculty at Speakeasy (https://www.linkedin.com/in/njermyn/)
I recently received a video whats app call from a great friend in California. She is the operations manager of a company and they, like many others, are all working from home. She was sitting down on her couch, working, taking calls, and notably proud of still being in her PJs. My first thought was that she needed to be careful if she was taking business calls whilst sitting like that in her PJs because everything we do affects everything we do; our surroundings, dress, and posture affect both us and our audience. The question is, are you aware of the messages that your home studio and your position in it, are sending to you and your audience and are you making choices deliberately to ensure that you come across most effectively?
Let’s start with the place. This morning I was working with a client in Russia who was very proud of her home office until I explained that I could see all sorts of books and folders, what looked like freeze-dried fruit in a package on the top of a shelf, and the ends of golden strings hanging down from the ceiling (balloons). My attention had been distracted from her to her background, her environment. Yup, I burst her bubble, or in this case, her balloon… Additionally, we can be distracted by our environment; I am writing this at home and just above the computer is a window, every time I look up from the keyboard, something outside catches my eye… This is not to say that we should hide everything and have an entirely blank environment. In current times, showing people we are working from home might deepen our relationship, but we need to be deliberate and understand that everything they can see can distract them from what we are saying and anything we can see could distract us. For me, it is better to reduce the clutter, reduce distractions without undermining the authenticity of the fact that you are at home. We are always seeking presence and authenticity, being fully ourselves and fully focussed on what we are doing and allowing our audience to do the same.
Now, what about you? How do you appear on a screen, have you ever seen your self on one? It can be an eyeopener. It can reveal mannerisms and idiosyncrasies that we were unaware of. When I was an Instructor at the UK Defence Academy I had to give various presentations. During a rehearsal for one, I asked a friend to sit in and give me feedback. His only note was that I ran my hand through my hair a lot, I didn’t believe him and laughed it off. A week later, halfway through giving the presentation, I caught myself running my hand through my hair. How many times had I already done it and how many people had it distracted? I had been unaware I was doing it. Once more we must be deliberate with everything we do from how we sit or stand to what we are wearing, the light in the room, our distance from the screen and our eye line when speaking and when listening. You want to look your best and perform at your best – everything about your environment including your clothing will affect you and may thus affect your audience. How do you feel when sitting on the couch in your PJs? Is that how you want to appear/come across to whomever you are speaking with?
Be deliberate. Choose your setting and your position in it consciously to reduce distractions for you and your audience and give yourself the best chance of getting your message across. Remember these 3 key items:
- Everything we do affects everything we do
- Be mindful of distractions that may be present in your background shot
- Be aware of the mannerisms and energy you are giving off virtually.