[IMGCAP(1)]A professional image is important in the office. But while interacting with clients and representing your firm in the community, have you ever given thought to the way you present yourself online or on other communication platforms?
I recently read this post from tech website Mashable and it got me thinking about the importance of representing yourself positively online using new technology and communication platforms like TV, webcams, streaming video and podcasts, among others.
Your success as a working professional is not only based on the way you represent yourself live and in-person, but how your photos look online or how you appear and sound while on camera if participating in an interview or podcast.
Take some time to read the Mashable article sourced above, but here are some additional tips and tricks to look your best and show confidence, poise and professionalism while participating on TV, the web or a podcast.
When you look dressed well and put together, your confidence shows and the audience will likely be more receptive to your message and view you as a thought leader. Here are a few tips:
• Make sure to wear something that fits correctly, is comfortable and breathable (TV lighting in studios can be hot).
• Make sure your outfit is appropriate for sitting or standing while being interviewed and that you test to make sure your skirt is not too short when sitting down on an interview chair (I admit, I have made this mistake before!) You can have a digital photo taken prior to your appearance while both sitting and standing to make sure your clothes look good in both positions.
• Avoid jewelry that will make too much noise or catch the light and flash as you move. Jewelry sounds can be picked up by a microphone and be very distracting.
• Good color choices are key. Some suggestions include cool blues, natural tones and pastels, as it has been said that colors like red, pink, orange and yellow may not be the most flattering. Check in with the segment producer or someone who can help you plan the right outfit. It all depends on the location of the shoot, time of day, and what colors you look best in normally. You don't want your clothing to clash or make you blend in, and you may also want to find out whether or not a green screen will be present. If one will be there, speak with someone to see what colors they suggest not to wear.
• Do not wear anything with tight patterns or pinstripes. This causes an optical illusion (moiré pattern) that does not look good on camera.
• Hand gestures should be smaller than usual. I notice that I talk a lot with my hands on camera, so I try to remember to tone it down and not gesture all over the place—instead using my voice and choice words to convey what I wish to communicate.
• Tip your eyeglasses up slightly off your ears. This will angle the lenses to reduce glare from studio lighting.
Your photo on the web
On LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to have a professional profile photo to represent yourself and your employer. Your profile photo is an important part of your online image, so taking the time to create something appropriate is an important step in social media training for those in the business world.
Go to a pro
You can't go wrong with a professional headshot. Many accounting professionals have them taken for use in RFPs, websites and speaking engagements, so speak to your HR or marketing team about whether or not you may need one. You can then repurpose the professional shot on your social media accounts.
Avoid bad poses
There is nothing professional about a profile photo you snapped in the mirror on your cell phone. If you can’t swing a professional headshot, use a decent digital camera, make sure the lighting in the room is good, and wear clothing that reflects how you would dress in the office. Anything else is likely too casual to be used online to represent you in business.
Podcast best practices
A podcast is a digital audio or video file that can be saved for playback on a portable device like a laptop or media player. Oftentimes there may be opportunities for CPAs and those in the accounting profession to take part in podcasts to share thought leadership, best practices in the profession, or updates about what’s going on in the industry. Talk with your marketing department or PR person to see what opportunities may be available, and check out some industry podcasts to get a feel of what is out there.
Some best practices for taking part in podcasts include:
Know the purpose of the podcast
Do your homework and be familiar with the direction the conversation or questioning will go. This way you will have confidence when giving your answers or speaking with the person guiding the discussion. This is also a great suggestion for anyone giving an interview to a reporter or writer. It’s always good to be prepared.
Know your audience
Know who will be tuning in. You may be the expert in the field but may have to simplify the information you present so the audience can understand what you are talking about.
Make sure to be authentic and don’t be afraid to show your personality during the conversation. If you are talking taxes, it may dry information, so know that it’s OK to interject some of your own personality into the conversation.
Podcasts should not be overproduced or too perfect. The emphasis on a great podcast is authenticity and realness. Also, remember that it’s not an ad, so don’t be overly promotional; this is your chance to share information, insight and educate your audience, not “sell them a used car.”
Keep it short and sweet. A good podcast length is concise at about five to 10 minutes.
Your voice and extra noise
Speak clearly and conversationally. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake—you can always pause and then clarify to remedy a mistake. Practice a few times alone or with a partner if you think it may put you more at ease. Be aware of background noise and the view of where you are recording. Certain environments could potentially be distracting, so be careful about recording in a cluttered office or near a high-traffic area.
As technology develops every day, there are more tools and communications platforms out there for accounting professionals to utilize. They key to success is knowing the best practices for usage of each new platform, and to always be aware of how your style and your professional image matter in the work world.
Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and was named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickCPAs and @EmilyBurnsPR, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.