Dear Miss Manners – Nervous Nellie in the Netherlands

by Miss Manners, Queen of Video Conferencing Etiquette

Dear Miss Manners,

My company recently set up a video conferencing endpoint in my office and I was really excited by the convenience. That was until I found out that I was scheduled to have a video call with our company’s CEO this Friday. I’m getting more and more nervous at the prospect as the week goes on. I know I should be focused on the sales figures we’re discussing, but I keep imagining myself getting tongue-tied and looking hopeless. I never used to get this way with in-person meetings, but the change is unnerving me. What can I do to get rid of these butterflies in my stomach and look professional on camera?

- Nervous Nellie, Netherlands

Gentle Reader,

Nervous Nellie needs advice for her first video conference.

Whoa, Nellie! Miss Manners understands that change can indeed be frightening, but she cannot help but wonder if you aren’t making matters worse for yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a slight case of nerves before a big meeting, but it can become an issue when it begins to affect your confidence and performance.

While the thought of conducting a meeting over an HD video call may be a frightening one, Miss Manners feels compelled to ask if you have similar qualms about talking on the phone. Audio conferencing can be somewhat distancing and it is easy to forget that you are sharing a connection with an actual person. High-definition video actually makes it easier to have a conversation with a person, because you are getting the nuanced non-verbal communication that you miss in traditional audio calls. Once you are on your video conference, Miss Manners feels confident that your nerves will dissipate and you will be your normal engaging, professional self.

If you still need help overcoming your lack of confidence, perhaps you should consider taking steps to build your confidence beforehand. If you feel unnerved by the idea of seeing yourself during the conference, you can set your call layout so that you see only your CEO, and not yourself. If you are suffering from a fear of public speaking, you may consider rehearsing what you want to say ahead of time or asking a coworker who is comfortable using video technology for some pointers.

Miss Manners would also like to take this time to point out what a difference professional attire can make on your confidence. Yes, the CEO will be able to see you, but professional apparel and a professional attitude will make this work to your advantage. Clothes may make the man, but they also make the woman.

- M.M.

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