Dressing for Zoom, Version 2023

Remember those days when we all had to go virtual and suddenly we were learning about Zoom? The jokes and reality of a dress shirt over PJs, learning to keep the kids and dogs out of the room, and muting and unmuting ourselves?

Someday maybe it’ll be nostalgic, but for me, it’s a little too soon.

I was incredibly grateful to Zoom for the chance for all of us too-distanced people to see the faces of other people and laugh with them, share ideas with them, and even just to do life with them. Some of my most poignant memories are of our small group meeting more often than usual when it all started, just to check in and share life, and pray together. So I do appreciate Zoom.

But I don’t miss it a whole lot.

However, in the current reality, a lot of Christian media folks, some TV but more radio and podcasters, still record on Zoom but only to capture the audio, because the audio quality is apparently quite good.

So if you get an interview opportunity, you may be told, oh it’s Zoom but we are just going to use the audio.

Great, you might understandably think, then it doesn’t matter if my hair is a mess or if I put on makeup. Or if I’m wearing a torn 1980s t-shirt from a long-disbanded band. Or if I get up and walk around the room or fold laundry to keep myself calm.

Oh yes it does matter.

Because here’s the thing.

Once they shoot you on video, they’ve got you on video.

Can you totally know for sure that video isn’t going to show up somewhere else?

So here’s my Zoom advice. Dress for TV anytime there is video being shot.

Because what if you do such a fabulous job that the radio station wants to put a clip on their website?

Or they want you in the promo video for a podcast?

You see the issue.

Will they use that video footage of you anyway? They might think your hair looks fine.

So it might depend on how bad your behavior on screen really is.

Or it’s more likely they will select video from someone who looks their best and is smiling and engaging.

Is either scenario likely? Probably not.

But who wants to risk it?

It bears repeating: Dress for TV anytime there is video being shot of you.

Finally, here’s another of those “tales from the front” to which I referred a few weeks ago, and this one is a bonus tip about clothes and interviews.  I learned this many years ago from an author doing interviews at a trade show, and often pass along this advice to clients.

As many of you know from personal and painful experience, one needs to be wearing comfy shoes at a trade show. But if you get interviewed on video where it’s possible they will do a long shot that includes your feet, or even do a radio interview that ends with a photo of you and the show host standing together, you’d better not be wearing hot pink high tops with a business suit. So the savvy author, who was already sporting a large bag for all her books, brought a change of shoes. Off with the scuffed up running shoes and on with the fashionable high heels.

I’d recommend that shoe change for any time you are doing an interview in that type of setting, audio or video.  Because feeling you are looking your best has other advantages too in your confidence level and by extension how you project yourself and your voice.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on March 17, 2023.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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