March 25, 2020

How to Project An Impressive Virtual Executive “Screen” Presence

There are no dress rehearsals once a virtual meeting begins. Most people form impressions of you within seven seconds. You are being judged by more than just your words.  Body language plays a significant role in how others perceive you, often speaking louder than words.  When you combine the right energy with the right body language and the right words, your message becomes more powerful and resonant. Here are some tips to adopt for positioning yourself to project a positive executive screen presence.

    • Own your space by sitting tall to show authority and power.
    • Lean forward slightly when you want to emphasize a point.
    • Keep your arms open. Crossing hands across your chest might signal disapproval or disinterest in what the other person is saying.
    • If you rest your hands on the arms or your chair, you will have better posture than resting them on your lap, which typically makes you slouch.
    • Firmly plant your feet on the ground as it is easier to gesture naturally.
    • Resist crossing your legs which may stop you from looking comfortable.


    • If using a stand-up desktop, stand tall.
    • Keep your feet facing the direction of the camera.
    • Stand with arms at your sides, feet slightly apart to ground you.
    • To avoid swaying, plant one foot slightly in front of the other.
    • Avoid both hands in your pocket, which minimizes your presence.


    • Gesture with your hands naturally, within the frame of the camera and closer to your body.
    • Count with your fingers to make your points, which signals to others you are not yet finished.
    • Never “lock” or “hide” your arms. You can rest them at your side. It will feel odd but look normal.
    • Avoid fist clenching or finger pointing which can be interpreted as aggressive or frustration.
    • Nod your head from time to time to show you are listening.
    • Excessive nodding will tell the listener you are agreeing, so be intentional when you demonstrate this expression.
    • Resist touching your face and hair


    • Keep a pleasant expression at all times, particularly when you are not speaking. When you are in a serious mindset or thinking deeply, your facial expressions can appear intense, unhappy or angry on camera.
    • Choose how you want to be perceived. Practice facial expressions in a mirror and critique yourself.
    • Smile when you want to look and sound upbeat and optimistic as it impacts on your inflection.
    • Most important, look approachable!


    • You must have continuity between what you say and how you say it.
    • Listen to how you select your words and enunciate them – you want to have a broader vocal range to express how you feel about a topic, from the initial greeting to a critical situation.
    • If you are saying you are excited to be presenting, you must have the appropriate facial expression, or you will not be believable.
    • Reduce your speed when presenting complicated data, particularly with global teams where language may be a barrier under the best of circumstances.
    • Record your voice, speaking with and without inflection. This will help you to hear yourself and hear how animated you are.
    • Verbal upticks minimize your words. If you are making a declarative statement, make sure your voice goes down at the end of your sentence.
    • Have a glass of water by the phone and cough drops that help to soothe your throat if you will be speaking for lengthy periods.
    • Avoid milk in coffee or tea as it stimulates the mucous glands which might make your throat dry or cough.
    • Exercise your vocal cords before a virtual meeting. Whisper as loud as you can, counting to ten.  This will improve the resonance of your voice and project louder.  The deeper your voice, the more pleasing it will be to listeners.


    • Visualize the person you are talking to as the lens of the camera.
    • Look into the lens while speaking.
    • If you speak looking at the person on the screen, your head will be lowered, and your eye contact will not be accurate.
    • Put the camera up to your eye level, using a box or books to raise your laptop.
    • Resist getting distracted and looking out the window or at yourself.


  • Don’t sit too close to the camera as your nose and mouth will appear exaggerated.
  • Use great lighting. Place a lamp behind your screen, even or just above your head height, to eliminate shadows.
  • Close your blinds if light is coming from other angles other than in front of your face.
  • Choose between natural light or a lamp, to avoid an odd light combination on your face.
  • Be mindful of what the camera shows. Check your background to create a professional look. Eliminate distracting objects or anything that may give off a negative impression.


  • Conduct a screen test fifteen minutes prior to a meeting, assessing how your hair, complexion, and voice come together.

As in the face-to-face world, how you virtually communicate will determine if others are inspired by you, listen to you or follow you.  Whether it be through gestures, posture, facial expressions, voice or your personal space, stage your presence to be impressive, approachable and professional.

You have the power to showcase executive “screen” presence even while working from home.  You have the opportunity to set the stage for inviting people into your personal space and creating a wonderful experience for them.  Remember that there are no dress rehearsals once the camera is rolling.

p.s.  If you are interested in customized virtual training in executive presence, communication, leadership, conducting a compelling meeting and remote team building, please reach out to us at

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