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Pandemic Business Communications Practices, how to dress and Zoom for the brave new world

The new normal in communications is here. Online meetings, virtual face-to-faces and events, plus the outdoor coffee meetings. Some long to return to the good old days of February. But the truth seems to be more and more clear that we are in a new normal.

Virtual meetings were once a nice add on for long distant connections, but they are the new standard. Today, Zoom, Google, Microsoft and others have improved their platforms and added new tech and functionality.

Let’s be honest, meetings were heading this way already. The time it takes to go to an in-person meeting is greater than online, and half the folks at most meeting were on their phones anyway. Zoom calls for discipline and structure. And it calls for good call management as well as the ability to communicate in a quick and direct way. We have all been on a Zoom to nowhere, and a productive Zoom calls for good communications and leader: having a solo agenda, keep the conversation on track, and assign follow up and goals.

It also calls for good lighting, and a thoughtful backdrop. I am amazed how some folks roll out of bed and on to Zoom, without good lighting or in front of a window. And don’t forget that we can see you — if you pick your nose or are looking at your phone….

So, the pressure is on to be on the digital stage — but there is good news! These 85-page PowerPoints that no one asked for are out, way out, so let’s hope we all can channel our inner Steve Jobs and get the job done. There are some very affordable and adjustable light kits to make you look your best, and play with the lighting to make it more human. And work on the back drop, showing who you are and your interests, but not just a bunch of awards or photos, look for fun props that won’t be a distraction. As for equipment, phones tend not to work as well as laptops, because they put the good camera in the back, not the front. And, once again the Mac shines - PC’s are known for the cheapness of their components, such as weak screens and bare bones cameras. New MacBook Pros offer a 1080p webcams — better than the 720p webcam on MacBook Airs. But mixed with a Retina Screen, is a much more powerful option for Zooming. But if you love Teams, then have at with a creaky PC.

Business travel used to be huge airlines, railroads, and hotel chains that boomed across the world to cater to it. Now it is a displaced industry — as trade shows, congees and conventions simply set down.

To compensate many are putting the bridge of the Enterprise blinds on them, or some exotic locale. It is cute and a concertino tarter but our advice is DON’T. Like Tiger King, it was a fad, one that has passed — so go for professional, crisp and creative, not shipwrecked.

One interesting topic is how to dress. A television reporter famously was called out for wearing shorts on camera a few weeks back. Clearly Zoom meetings are changing the way people dress on camera — suits are out, and you need to make a quick impression. For men, skip the necktie and go for a polo or a shirt that has a simple bright pattern. For women, a blouse with sleeves. And look out for shiny fabrics or sparkly jewelry. Look for happy and bright patterns and prints, that transmit well and not too tight or casual.

Either way, we all run our own TV station right now, and this is not going to change for a while — so channel your best Jack Parr, and do your best on the small screen.

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