Dress for Success – What to Wear to a Videoconference

When you can't meet someone face-to-face because of time pressures or just because it makes economic sense, a video conference is the next best thing. This lets you see the other person and let's them see you. There's a lot to be gained in person-to-person interactions where you can pick up a lot of subtle non-verbal clues as to how the other person is receiving or reacting to your message.

Being shown on video, however, is not just like being there in the room, so you have to be a bit more aware of how you present yourself and what you wear than you might be if you were sitting down with someone in person. You don't want anything, not your hair, not your clothes, not the room, not the technical aspects of the system, or any other number of things to distract the people on the other side of the transmission line from your message.

One of the easiest things to control is what you wear. Believe it or not, this does make a difference. Some colors and patterns just do not work well in the video environment. For example, for men striped or patterned shirts sometimes do not display well on remote sites, white shirts also can be a problem because of glare. Light blue or pastel shirts work best. For the same reason women should not wear white or bold highly patterned dresses, tops, or jackets. Red and black can also be problematic in transmission. Solid colors or pastels are the best.

For women, watch your jewelry, especially if it is shiny or dangles. You don't want anything to brush against the microphone or tabletop or cause feedback during the call. And you don't want to wear anything that would be distracting due to its own motion. For men, silver tie clips can also reflect light and become a visual annoyance. Tinted glasses are also a no-no because they mask your eyes and cover part of your face, the open appearance of which is an important part of the visual experience.

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AccuConference | Business Communications Across Generations

Business Communications Across Generations

For employees who are Gen Y and Gen X, instant messaging (IM) is a no-brainer. They come into work and log in, using IM to contact fellow employees and others throughout the workday. No problem, right?

For the older generation of Baby Boomers, IM is a problem. It's not how they want to communicate with their colleagues or their peers. They prefer email, the phone, and face-to-face communication. So they choose not to log in to IM first thing on a workday morning.

It may not seem like a big deal, but for companies who rely on all employees to communicate effectively with each other, a little thing like not using the same tools can escalate into something more menacing. What kind of alternate communication channels should be encouraged? How does a company facilitate failing communication between two very different generations of workers?

1. Recognize the needs of each generation and keep everyone focused on the work to be done. Each generation has a way they prefer to work, as we've seen, Gen X and Y adore IM and social media, whereas Baby Boomers prefer more of a personal approach (phone, email, face-to-face), so can't the work get done by utilizing all of these communication channels? Have a face-to-face meeting at first, move to email and IM later, and then end the project with another face-to-face meeting is just one suggestion. Make it work!

2. Utilize each generation's disparate approach to problem solving so that everyone feels as if they play a valuable role. The face-to-face approach helps Baby Boomers feel that they are bringing their experience forward, whereas IM and social media helps Gen Y do research they need to find that same information. Both generations can provide the experience and research, it just takes a well-structured environment to bring it out.

3. Think through each generation's work concerns and figure out how to create forward motion together. While Baby Boomers want stability (and thus often attempt to control a project by their experience and "that's how we've always done it" approach), Gen Y wants to move forward with their careers by thinking outside the box. How a company melds those two concerns and moves forward is a matter of leadership. A manager who sees both sides, and welcomes all viewpoints and concerns will not bend to either side in finding a solution.

4. Above all, each generation wants respect in some way. The best way to give it to them, is to explain that everyone's approach requires some give and take. If Gen Y will let the Baby Boomers have their face-to-face meeting, perhaps the Baby Boomers can attempt to sign in to IM each morning and make their vast experience and expertise available to those who seek it.

All in all, the generation gap requires a strong management role that won't be influenced for or against any communication approach. That's the main challenge of business communications during this time.

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