I’ve been working remote for 20 years but back then a remote team meeting meant speakerphone, coffee in hand while I spent the day in my bathrobe with an unmade face. No yoga pants required. True story.
Five years ago I began my full time gig in the world of virtual meetings using video and have slowly figured out how to look my best for remote client meetings even in a pinch. It feels timely to share those tips and tricks for all the amazing women out there who understand looking your best, even in the virtual environment, matters. I would argue, it matters more.
Some of these tips came from necessity, others vanity and some from people on the other side of the screen. It’s amazing what people notice. For example, clients often ask me about my eyebrows. What lipstick I use. Why my skin glows. All outlined for you below. Whether you like it or not you’re making an impression. I’m passing along these ideas to help you make it your best.
In no particular order…
Light Up Your Remote Environment
The easiest way to freshen up your look in a pinch is lighting. The best way to have a consistent look is to stage your lighting.
Always face a window to allow the natural light to magically blur away dark circles, fine lines and any other facial imperfection. Light behind you or a lack of light actually shadows your face and creates imperfections you do not even have!
Note: While I’m an advocate of natural beauty and the fact we should not be concerned with hiding imperfections, in my experience, I show up more confident when I’m looking my best. I believe there’s nothing wrong with wanting to put your best face forward!
For more consistent lighting, gray days or for evening calls, I recommend purchasing a ring light. This can be easily found by searching ‘ring light’ on Amazon for lots of options; I have a Neewer kit similar to this one.
Equipment to Uplevel Your Virtual Experience
The ideas below become critical when you’re engaging in remote team meetings on an ongoing basis. You can certainly get by without them, but for the leader who is on back to back calls these recommendations will be game-changers.
Another trick for a fresh faced appearance is to get yourself a camera for your laptop.Yes the built in cameras are pretty good these days, but I was wowed when I finally purchased my Logitech webcam. Something that plugs in via USB comes in handy for travel too when we are all back in action. It’s amazing what my Logitech webcam is able to do when conferencing from a hotel room. I use an older version of this Logitech webcam.
Camera position matters. Eye level or slightly above. I position mine slightly above and angle down, you will be amazed at the anti-aging effects. I love my Roost laptop stand, and in a pinch I find empty boxes, baskets or whatever I have in the kitchen that is stable.
A quick tip if you’re using Zoom meeting, enable the option to touch up your appearance by going to Settings – Video and selecting Touch Up My Appearance.
A great solution for long term remote work especially when you can’t seem to find a great place in your home that offers a staged background, is to purchase a green screen. Alternatively, get a green cloth background and tack it up to the wall behind you. I love this option because it takes up less space, I can take it down quickly and it’s easily stored. This allows you to then use the virtual background option within Zoom meeting. Again, head to Settings – Meeting – In Meeting Advanced – Virtual Background. Once this option is enabled, while you’re in a meeting click the arrow next to Start Video – Choose Virtual Background. Use one they provide or upload your own photo.
I definitely recommend an external microphone. Something that plugs into your computer via USB. You probably can do without it in the short term, but trust me, those earbuds with mic will get old fast and are not ideal for long term remote work. I found them to constantly get tangled in my hair, earrings and clothing. I have used an Audio Technica mic similar to this one for my podcast from day one and love it. An external mic offers more professional sound too for those of you doing interviews virtually for podcasts, webinars and telesummits.
My ears get sore with headphones on all day long so I tend to listen on speaker from my computer. I add regular earbuds when I need privacy and use noise cancelling headphones when recording for the podcast. If you’ve got lots of background noise, I would consider an upgrade to your earphones especially if virtual meetings will become your lasting new norm.
Amplify Your Beauty
Historically I’m not a gal that has worn a lot of makeup. I actually finally went for an official makeup lesson in the last five years because I was on video so often and I wanted to not appear so washed out. The challenge for me from going to very little makeup to a full face, was the time it takes. So I’ve figured out a few tricks that allow me to not put on complete makeup every day and still look fresh. My best ideas for you to try are below.
First you must moisturize your skin, even the gents. My super secret trick for glowing skin in a pinch is a Keys product called KPRO Tinted Moisturizer. I’m fair and it blends well for me. They claim it blends for all skin types, I’ll be curious to hear how darker skin tones engage with it. Let me know ladies!
Second fill in your eyebrows. I lightly pencil in bare spots and give shape to the top of my brows only with a pencil. Then I use a powder to fill in the color of the entire brow. Many people ask me about my brows – I have never had them professionally done, it’s all DIY! Here is the pencil I use along with the powder from Senna Cosmetics. As my makeup artist Brett Dorrian taught me, your brows are cousins but not twins – do not try to make them appear as such!
Finally, lips. A tinted lip gloss goes a long way for those who are not used to wearing much on your face. Burt’s Bees lip shimmer is my long time go to and I recently discovered a coconut based tinted lip gloss I love called Kopari. If you want lasting color that is au natural and cruelty free I love the products by Bite, specifically their lip crayon.
Head and Hair, My $0.02
I draw the line when it comes to what’s on top – no hats for any professional engagement. Take it or leave it, that’s my thing. If you see me in a hat, the video will definitely not be recorded and I’m jumping into an unplanned remote meeting with a client.
Otherwise, my hair is washed and curled or straightened.
Here’s what I do recommend, find a style you feel confident in that you can bring together for yourself in a pinch, even if your hair is unwashed. That could mean a teased ponytail or a dry shampoo that works with your hair like magic. For me, it’s a Breakfast at Tiffany’s inspired updo a la Audrey Hepburn. The point here is to plan. Plan what you can pull together on a moment’s notice and have the tools on hand in your virtual office.
What to Wear, Pants Are Not Optional
It took me a little practice to find a daily outfit routine that would take me through the seasons and work for casual one to one remote meetings to full on presentation for a webinar to hundreds.
Every day with the occasional variance, you’ll find me in skinny jeans and a black tank top or black long sleeve shirt. Both are fitted and I tend to favor Athleta for these items. Over that I wear a jacket. Sometimes a jacket that is formal and fit and other times something more casual – but always a solid colored jacket because it looks most polished. I also keep a formal jacket option in my office at all times so I can switch it up in a pinch if needed.
Also keep a dress scarf handy. It will warm you up when you get chilled and it will dress you up when you feel like a pop of color or you need a new outfit instantly. Another idea is a colorful chunky necklace.
Pick solid colors that add color to your face and compliment your skin tone. I’m certainly not suggesting you wear black, that’s my thing. Find yours.
And a note on the skinny jeans…those are often black too. So if I stand up on camera it looks polished given they match my top and they are fitted not baggy. Lots of ladies wear black yoga pants. I believe this could work too. You will know if you test it. Record a video of yourself and stand up during the mock meeting to see how you look.
Other Items on My Mind
I’ve never had a time when my shoes mattered, except to me. I love a great pair of shoes. So for the 4-5 months here in Stowe when boots are not required, you’ll most likely find me in a pair of Fly London shoes. I wanted to mention it for those of you who love a few extra inches in height without the pain of traditional heels.
Shoes don’t matter, but your hands do. Just because you’re virtual doesn’t mean they won’t notice your well overdue manicure. The jewelry you’re wearing is also well on display. Think it through.
As most of you get settled in your new remote work world, I hope my five years of trial and error offer you a jump start on how to show up looking your best. While the kids continue to interrupt your meetings, the cat will continue to saunter across your keyboard during your board presentation and your special someone will undoubtedly ask what’s for dinner not realizing you are still ‘at work’…
Remember, we all recognize those are the things you cannot control, but what you can certainly influence is how you show up. And how you show up, it matters.