Are you on brand when appearing on camera?

My boss has a new office. By that I mean his room has been redecorated, in the corner of the floor on which he and his entourage sit.

A year or so ago, I went to great effort and expense to redesign all the meeting rooms and offices so they reflected the corporate colours of our brand – just in case anyone fell asleep in a meeting and woke up not knowing where they were. Anyway, last week I had my first meeting with the boss since his new office was finished and was somewhat aghast to see that one of the walls had been painted a rather sickly colour of ‘khaki’ (which for those who did not grow up in an era of Airfix models, means ‘shit greeny brown’).

He explained that he was having a video conference system installed, and had been advised that this was the preferable colour as a backdrop. This got me thinking about the video conferences and webinars we all now do, and just how much forethought goes into presenting ourselves in the best light – and in turn, our brands – to our audience, given that we should probably pay as much attention to this, as we do to the tome of brand guidelines that control the way our brand is represented in printed and digital media.

First, what you wear matters – stripes become fuzzy over the videowaves, while a plainer, softer colour will ensure that the viewer focuses on what you are saying, rather than your awful shirt and tie combination. Then there is eye contact. This can be hard to visualise when you cannot see who you are talking to, but it is critical to focus on the camera, pretending that the person on the other end is the only person in the world.

And then there’s the clutter? Do you really want your audience to know that you work in a pigsty? Remember, too, the camera sees everything – if the meeting drags on too long, don’t get tempted to check your BlackBerry, pick your nose or yawn. How many of us rehearse how we look on screen before going live? A dozen people will vet your new ad; as many people will comment on your script but how many of us bother with a video selfie – just to check we are going to be ‘on brand’?

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