The 2020 December cover of The New Yorker is the ultimate lesson in virtual meetings etiquette. One exception - less the cocktail, if the meeting is on business. I’ll get to that.
Originally called “Love life”, the idea of the artist, Adrian Tomine - contemporary cartoonist - for the cover was to humour the increasingly digital search for love. The visual merits the idea, but its usefulness goes a long way beyond that. See here the original work-of-art:
Just looking at the cover you can also get the clearest insights to how to ace both work and romantic virtual meetings. For convenience, and apologies to the artist, I have put yellow checks on the specific spots described in more detail below.
Lighting is key: always have a good source of light facing you - the light straight from the window, but not direct sunshine, is best. If not, use a substitute.
Camera should be eye level: books or any other props will do to lift the laptop (in the picture some more books are needed to achieve the perfect level). The eye-level camera is a cure to any sign of ageing in the below-the-chin area. You definitely do not want the camera pointed at that, even in your 20s.
Straight posture: one is always tempted to relax on the couch or in a comfy arm-chair, but when on virtual meetings dedicated to work or starting a relationship - in both occasions you want to look sharp. Sit up.
Dress for the occasion: the debate of whether to use casual clothes is heated. But research shows that dressing intentionally for the occasion both improves productivity and the perception of our suitability for the job. It is valid for both romantic and business meetings. So dress up. Don't overdo it, but showing an effort pays off.
Do hair and make up: putting an effort in that area (shaving and trimming seems to be appropriate message for men) seems to be a subconscious signal to the opposite party that you care.
Intentional background is key: the lady in the picture used a cover to hide the messy bed. You do not necessarily need to run and buy similar. The point is to be intentional with what you want to be visible. Your stuff speaks more about you than you can imagine. Read the book Snoop of Sam Gosling if you need proof.
Camera on: if you want an engaging meeting, especially if you are only two people in it, be present with camera on. For romance and in the office, a picture speaks a 1000 words.
There are very few occasions when one may, intentionally, deviate from the above-mentioned basics of making a good virtual impression. One such example could be when a top manager wants to shorten the distance and show herself in a more relaxed manner to her colleagues. Another example could be if one wants to demonstrate their uniqueness. The key is to be intentional and not confusing it with laziness.
One last comment: for work, of course, loose the cocktail. Unless you attend the annual office Christmas party... in 2020, of course, it will be virtual.
Victory Corners, 2020 by Viktoriya V. Blazheva