Everyone, from project managers to CEOs, are suddenly being asked to be TV performers.

Calendars are filled with more Zoom, Skype, Webex and GoTo Meetings than ever.

There is so much more to manage in an online meeting than in person. In addition to the subject, you have to worry about lighting, sound, and distractions.

Let me share from my experience in both TV news and video conferences. These are practical tips to maintain your presence, even when you’re not present in person.

1. Get the lighting right – Position your webcam so your face is well-lit. Avoid backlighting—a window or a lamp in the background makes your eyes disappear. You want your eyes and expressions visible.

2. Look straight into the camera – Position your computer or webcam so that the camera is at eye level. If you see your ceiling in the background, raise your device. Use a box or other stable platform. It’s about looking professional, plus (for a lot of us) it’s a MUCH more flattering angle.

3. Stage the background – Avoid distractions behind you. A neatly arranged bookcase or blank wall is great. Avoid clutter. And Zoom and other platforms have new tools to insert a virtual background….you can insert your own image if you have a new computer.

4. Generate clean sound – Most newer computer microphones are good enough, especially if you’re in a quiet space. Use earbuds or a headset if you are in a noisier environment. Ask your colleagues for feedback on sound quality.

5. Sit Up – Don’t slouch. Maintain eye contact with your camera. Avoid looking at your phone or your email. Yeah, it’s MUCH harder to pretend you’re paying attention on a video conference. You actually have to pay attention.

6. Speak Up – When you have something to say, keep it short, clear and direct. Keep your hands away from your mouth. It muffles your speech.

7. Shut Up – If you agree with someone, offer a “thumbs up” or shake your head. Make it obvious. It will help keep the meeting moving.

And here’s a bonus…if you can, lock the door to avoid distractions.

But if a scene-stealing pet child or spouse pays a surprise visit—remember this memorable BBC interview with a professor-- roll with it. Most people will understand…and laugh.

Now, there’s even more to consider if you’re leading the meeting and delivering the content. Please call or email me at Davison Strategic Communications for advice and coaching to strengthen your online executive presence…whether you’re there in person….in here on screen.

For more great tips, see this article from the New York Times.