Presenting over the internet is now becoming a way of life, but to do it well takes practice. It is well to remember that even when you are not actually speaking you might still be on camera, so make sure you are not caught yawning, looking bored or grabbing a snack!



What are the main things to be aware of? I would say your face, your hair, your clothes, your voice and the background. Let’s look at them one by one.

1. Your face and hair

On the whole, your face and your upper body are probably the only bits on show. It is important to look vibrant and healthy, so the right lighting is crucial.

Before the meeting or presentation, experiment in the room you are going to use. It is usually more flattering to sit in front of a window with light shining on the face, but be careful that you don’t look bleached out. Zoom does have a blur setting which can even out skin tone, but do try to get the lighting even so there aren’t any interesting shadows. Anything that distracts from what you are saying is bad news.

Wearing a bit of lipstick helps to define the mouth and as we all lip read more than most of us are aware of, this can make the message easier to assimilate. Tidy hair is also essential for the same reasons.

2. Your clothes

It is generally accepted now that informality is the norm for those working from home, but your clothes should be appropriate for the message you are delivering or the meeting you are taking part in.

Bright colours help us to stand out and be noticed, but if you would rather merge into the background, neutral colours are best.

Although most people don’t expect quite the level of formality when working from home, my advice is to dress as if you are physically going to be there. It is so easy to wear a smart blouse or jacket and tracksuit bottoms for comfort, but dressing properly is psychologically important, as it will give you that mental sharpness needed for any appearance.

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3. Your voice

Your voice is vital to give information in an interesting way that will hold people’s attention. Sadly, most of us have no idea how we sound as very few of us bother to listen to our voices. Whether you are chatting with friends at home, colleagues at work, giving your team an update or making a speech, the way you use your voice is crucial.

To speak clearly, start speaking slightly slower and lower than normal, as nerves tend to make us speed up and use the voice's higher register, which can lead to a loss of credibility. Knowing your voice is key to using it properly and the only way to get to know it is to record yourself. I know, everyone hates the sound of their own voice, but we can never use it to its full advantage if we don’t know how we come across when speaking.

4. Background

Make sure the background is suitable for the people you are talking to, no coffee cups, dead plants or piles of papers on show.

If your only private space is your bedroom you might want to use a virtual backdrop. These can be useful but choose carefully - if a company or organisation is going through a bad time, a vision of you talking in front of a sunlit Caribbean beach might not go down too well!

Finally, make sure you always test your equipment before you ‘go on air’.

Haynes Publishing’s Speak Manual by Diana Mather is priced at £12.99 and is available now from

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