Looking Remotely Good: Looking Your Best Online For Virtual Meetings


Nelson Hudes / MNI Media

Release Date

Thursday, September 10, 2020


TORONTO, ON – The shockingly sudden advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a fundamental shift in how Canadians interact with friends & family, bosses & co-workers, and teachers & classmates. While much has been made of the virtual stampede to ZOOM, FaceTime, Skype and other video conferencing venues by employers and employees, teachers and students are about to join the rush as the nervously-anticipated 2020-21 school year is about to begin.

It’s certain to be a school year unlike any other – just ask college students at UNC-Chapel HillMichigan State or Notre Dame who were told their classes will be held remotely due to local COVID-19 outbreaks. At press time, universities in 19 U.S. states have reported COVID-19 outbreaks, despite having instituted protocols on campus. Could it happen here at U of T, Queens or even your local high school? If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. Are you and your school-age children prepared for their time to shine online? 

“Modern technology has enabled ‘alive but not live’ interactions that allow us to be up close and personal without getting in each other’s actual faces,” explains Jeff Alford, President and CEO of The CBON Group. “However, technology can be a double-edged sword. That’s because screen-time is very different from face-time and our appearance on-screen can vary dramatically from how we look in real life… all too often, it’s not a good look.” 

Looking good on video has assumed newfound importance (and in some cases, notoriety) these days. While left-open doors and intruding pets & toddlers are part and parcel of working/studying from home, how you look when you “face” the world cannot be taken lightly. Here’s why:    


  1. Dressing for the Job: There’s an old cliché that goes something like “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Actually, both are true! Balancing home life with work/school life isn’t easy but some people are under the impression a video conference is a virtual extension of their home. Just the opposite: it’s an extension of their office or classroom. Dress, look and act accordingly – your job or your grades may depend on it. 

  1. Impressions Still Matter: You wouldn’t attend a budget meeting or a biology class wearing pyjamas and rocking some serious “bed head”, now would you? Yet it happens, more often then you’d think! The internet is chock-a-block with tales of office drones who apparently roll out of bed and right into a video conference… just because they can! Think your boss, professor, co-workers and/or classmates will be impressed by your “dreamy” look? Better think again.  

  1. Look Sharp, Feel Sharp: When we look good, we feel good, and feeling like a million bucks will put you in the right frame of mind to work towards achieving your financial, professional or educational goals. Seeing yourself on video is a lot like looking in the mirror: you’ll feel better about yourself if you like what you see!   

  1. Timing is Everything: One downside of working from home is the erosion of the traditional 9-to-5 (or 9-to-3, for many schools) day. Homework such as group projects are often conducted before or after the dinner hour and as for office workers, you’d best look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when the boss wants something done and they want to see you NOW. Oh, and don’t forget to take off that lobster bib before answering your boss’s urgent late-evening ZOOM invite.       

  1. Appearance Pressure: For most kids these days, the pressure to fit-in socially at school can exceed the need to ace their studies. Unflattering lighting, a bad hair day, chipped or mismatched nails, even an untimely “maskne” breakout… what may be passing embarrassments for most of us could trigger major anxiety in your school-age child.     

All of the above factors have now taken on even greater importance as summer vacation ends and the new school year begins. “The camera judges us without mercy,” states Cheryl Gushue, Professional Beauty Expert & Fashion Creative Curator at Beauty Hub. “If you’ve ever wondered why our favourite actors and actresses look so good, check out the credits at the end of the show. Professional makeup artists, lighting technicians and post-production engineers are paid handsomely to bring out the best in their subjects. If you had them on-call at home, you’d be the star of every video conference!” 

Trouble is, you DON’T have them at home and even if you wanted them, they’re WAY out of your price range. As for slacking off and showing up for virtual class in PJs or worse, educators are unleashing their inner internet “fashion police” by enforcing dress codes to students who attend classes remotelyWhat to do?

What NOT to do, is trust your reputation to some self-important YouTube influencer who cares more about their subscribers than your social status. Instead, support your local salon by saying “so long” to amateur marketers. “Canada’s beauty industry employs over 200,000 Canadians, 85% of whom are women, many of whom are the sole financial support for their families,” states Alford. “They know their stuff – and they know how to make you look good whether it’s in person or in pixels.”

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