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Maximizing Your Appearance On Camera A New Skill For Lawyers

By Liza Vasquez ICF CMC and Jeffrey F. Silber CPA MBA CMC

Certified Master Business and Life Coaches

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft CEO said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” Video conference calls are not new. But until the current health crisis forced many people, including lawyers, to work from home, video conferencing in medium and small law firms was more the exception rather than the norm.

In such a short time, everything has changed. It is now quite usual for lawyers to have online video meetings with their clients and to participate in webinars. You are lawyers, not television personalities, and there is an art to looking your best on camera. Good on-camera appearance does not happen by accident and nothing has prepared you for it. Perhaps in the future, law schools will teach their students how to market their services including how to appear on camera. So far that is not the case.

It is not even possible for progressive law firms that have mentoring programs to pass on these skills to the junior lawyers because these may not be skills that the mentors themselves possess. It is a new and needed skill for both experienced partners and associates to have in the new normal.

There is no point in appearing live online if you harm your image rather than improve it. Therefore, to help improve your online appearance, here are our suggestions for coming across better and for enhancing your image.

Our overall comment is to never forget that other people are watching you – it is just like being on TV.

Clothing and Appearance:

· Dress as if you were going to a client’s office

· Do not wear a tee-shirt, you may be at home, but you must still look professional

· Do not wear shirts or blouses that have very busy or harsh patterns or stark colors like all black or all white, because those are hard for a camera to adjust to while trying to keep your face properly in focus and correctly exposed. As they may show up on camera as "sizzle," which is very distracting – light blue shirts and blouses are best

· Hair, mustache, and beards need to be well groomed

Your Performance:

· Sit up straight in your chair

· When it is your turn to talk, make eye contact with the camera as if you are looking into someone’s eyes, do not let your eyes wander

· Speak loudly enough to sound confident, enunciate but do not shout.

· Make only small gestures but only if required

· 70% of good communication is body language

· Be attentive even if it is not your turn to talk

Practice active listening – the secret of being a good actor is being a good listener

· Eyeglasses tend to reflect the light from the computer screen – if you can do without them, take them off, but do not keep putting them on and taking them off, that is very distracting

Your Performance Things to Avoid:

· Do not read from a written script because you will not sound natural, instead, work from bullet-point notes

· Eating, drinking (other than a cup of coffee or tea) or smoking on camera

· Looking at your phone or laptop

· Leaving the frame without explaining why

· Figuring out the technology during the call if you are the organizer

Technical Aspects:

· Check with a friend about the sound quality of your computer because you may need to invest in a good microphone

· Put a few books under your computer so that it is raised, and you are looking straight ahead directly into the camera and not down at it - avoid keeping the camera at an upward angle

· Do not have the bright light of a window behind you – you will appear as only a silhouette. Turn and have the window in front of you

· Put a ring-light behind your computer so that there will be no shadows on your face

· If the background behind you does not look professional on camera, choose a virtual Zoom background such as a library so that you still look like a lawyer

· Mute yourself when you are not speaking, especially when there are many other participants or when there is noise such as talking children or a barking dog where you are

On Camera Coaching – Liza Vasquez, president of Silber, Vasquez & Associates has been an acting coach in Hollywood and New York. She has also directed Off-Broadway theater. Please contact her at liza.vasquez@svacoaches.com to arrange for a coaching program to improve your on-camera presentation, or for your team. Remember, you can also reach out to Liza for coaching on anything related to any feelings or concerns you may have during these trying times of COVID-19.

Coaching During the Lockdown – Inasmuch as most lawyers are working from home, a large percentage have more unproductive downtime than ever before. This is an excellent opportunity to arrange for a private coaching program for yourself, or group coaching for your team via Zoom, in the new ways to market your services in a world where face-to-face meetings are no longer possible. Please contact Jeffrey Silber at jeffrey.silber@svacoaches.com to discuss a coaching program for you and your team in Marketing Your Legal Services in a Post-Covid-19 world.

© Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Any unauthorized distribution or reproduction of this material in print or in any electronic form is strictly prohibited. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the prior written consent of Silber, Vasquez & Associates.


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©2019 by Silber Vasquez & Associates