As you settle into working from home, that likely means settling into how to run meetings remotely – a very different experience if your norm has been meeting face-to-face.
A reality of remote meetings that you may/may not have realized by now is that your environment matters. Background visual distractions are amplified when you’re on a video call. How can you ensure that your home office environment reinforces your organization’s brand, especially for calls with external stakeholders?
Let brand be your guide. Then ask yourself two questions: What are the things that could reflect negatively on the brand I represent? And what should I do to make the brand really shine?
Pre-Coronavirus, you likely never intended to invite all your meeting attendees into your home. But now that that’s a reality, focus on the elements of your space and how they can amplify your brand. Clear the clutter and get rid of the things that will distract from who you are and what you want to say.
Look at your home-based office from the eyes of your viewers. What’s in the background? Your backdrop is telling a story about you. Is it a story that detracts from the meeting you’re joining, or does it reinforce your organization’s values, mission, credibility?
Here are a few ways to make your virtual meeting presence more brand-centered.
Yes, it’s possible, you can put your logo on yourself without it being too distracting for the person on the other end of the call by wearing your company’s t-shirt or other branded apparel.
Video calls are also an opportunity to make sure your profile pictures and avatars for virtual meeting platforms are updated and brand-centered. Is your Zoom profile picture your logo? Or a headshot from your website? These will appear much more professional than a default photo.
Many virtual meeting platforms, such as Zoom, also have a feature that will change your background, hiding what’s actually there so that users on the other end can’t see, such as my example below:
Have an impressive home office gallery wall or bookshelf? Don’t be afraid to use these as your backdrop! While your reading material may not always directly relate back to your organization, this backdrop itself can evoke brand, especially if your organization’s values include thought leadership and knowledge. Consider organizing books by color for a more serene background.
Does your home office wall include photos or artwork that are significant to your mission or show your organization in action? Though these elements shouldn’t be distracting, feel free to have them viewable in your background. Boettcher Foundation, for instance, encourages all of its staff members to feature personal photos in their offices of their brand values in action. My fellow Mission Minded Founding Partner Jennie Winton has client work examples hung on the wall behind her (see below).
Let’s face it – it can be hard to keep meeting participants engaged for the duration of a long meeting, especially if it’s virtual.
Think back to your brand. Is there an activity that you can kick off the call with, such as an ice breaker, that will elicit responses from attendees that remind them of your organization’s mission? What about questions that help attendees think about your values? This can be effective for both internal meetings (reminding colleagues of your mission and its impact in these uncertain times) as well as external meetings (helping people new to your organization understand its values).
If your Internet connection is strong enough, try to stay on video for as long as possible during the call, and encourage the attendees of your meeting to do so as well. Though it doesn’t replace the quality of an in-person meeting, video enables you to connect with each other in a way that is more authentic and meaningful than pure audio. And if authenticity and connection are part of your brand values, this tactic is even more relevant for reinforcing your brand.
There are more ways to bring your brand to life in your home office. Share what you do (or the lessons you’ve learned the hard way in this period) so that others can benefit from your experience.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Zach Hochstadt is a Mission Minded Founding Partner and runs Mission Minded’s Denver office, leading the company’s creative teams in the areas of message development, writing, graphic design, and web design and development.
See all posts by Zach Hochstadt