A few days ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was videoconferencing on air with MSNBC from his home. In the middle of the interview, the bathroom door behind him opened and what appeared to be his African American house cleaner came out with cleaning supplies.
She looked awkwardly toward the video and he at her. Then she wandered quickly out of the frame. She was not wearing a mask, and neither was he.
Video can break a brand.
Ironically, this was just moments after Senator Schumer had been speaking about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black Americans. To be fair Senator Schumer is not the first person – and he certainly won’t be the last – to make a bad videoconferencing faux pas. The larger point here is that in this day and age brands can be made or broken based on what we do online.
There’s a new body language in town©.
There’s an old chestnut of a statistic from a decades old Stanford University study on communication that asserts that communication is 7 percent verbal, 38 percent vocal, and 55 percent visual.
But in the age of COVID-19 there’s a new body language in town: it’s how you dress and what’s going on behind you on video calls. In short, your background has become part of your brand.
The way you come across on Zoom and videoconferencing and what you are putting out about current events on the net shapes your brand for better or for worse. How you are managing your brand online and on video today is your brand.
The bottom line is that in today’s business environment, you are either amplifying your message or detracting from your message by the way you come across on video and how you use it, including what you wear, the colors you wear, your background, body language, lighting, etc.
Videoconferencing is an old medium being used in a new way and we all have a learning curve — even Senators.