With virtual being the primary and preferred mode of communication for companies, organisations, schools and individuals, the big question many of you have is: how do you build your personal brand on Zoom?

Let me share some useful and practical insights on what I have done to boost my personal branding online.


#1: Use A Customised Virtual Background

If you don’t already know, the Zoom video chat app allows users to create a virtual background.

Now what’s a virtual background? 

To put it simply, a virtual background is any desired image of your choice. Examples include your recent beach holiday, breathtaking mountain scenery, mock-up designer room you always wanted; or the wallpaper from your favourite Marvel movie…

The list is endless and you are constrained only by your creativity.

Why do we use a virtual background?

Well, it masks your cluttered bedroom, messy bed or wardrobe behind you. After all, the focus of the Zoom call or meeting should be on YOU rather than your surroundings. It’s also to protect your privacy and project a sense of professionalism.

Personally, I have activated the virtual background too. But I have upped my game. So instead of holiday photographs or movie blockbuster wallpapers, I have designed my very own customized virtual background that features my brand prominently. It has my name, face and website URL on it. 

If you have been following my other social media platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook, you will realise it is the same banner image that I use for all. This provides both consistency and familiarity across.

Till date, after dozens of Zoom webclasses and meeting calls, I realise I am the only one that has maximized the power of the virtual background to boost my personal brand. And naturally, it becomes a talking point among my learners, clients and prospects. 

(PS: I’m very sure I will kickstart this trend of using a customized virtual background. Just remember – you read it here first!)


#2: Dress To Impress

Yes, I know we will all be seated down when Zooming. But that does not give us the excuse to be dressed sloppily. ❌ 

After all, your audience, prospect or colleagues will still judge you based on the first impression.

Seated down has its benefits – that is if you don’t stand up at all throughout the call, meeting or webclass. 💻

Instead, consider this dress code that I have coined – virtual smart.

As long as you appear looking professional in front of the webcam (at least for your top), that is all that matters.

Now how do you channel the virtual smart look?

It really depends on the agenda.

If it’s a webclass, meeting or private coaching, I’m good to go in a polo T-shirt.

If it’s a branding-related virtual event or webinar, I’ll wear a crew neck T shirt with a blazer over it. 

Imagine turning up in your pajamas to attend a Zoom townhall or discussion. You know you will be the talking point for many days to come.

So remember to add this new dress code into your lexicon today. Virtual smart. 👔


#3: Invest In A Professional Webcam

Graininess is the last thing I will ever accept. Laptop webcams are acceptable in quality, but not great. So if you are producing content or doing consulting calls with your clients, you need to ensure everything your stuff is great.

As a professional speaker, the two biggest reasons that nudged me to get a professional webcam were:

✔️𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐀𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐇𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐫 𝐄𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞

As I have converted my face-to-face workshops to online, I wanted my learners to be able to have a better learning experience with clearer videos, sharper photos and crisp audio quality. And that should be the hallmark of any A-grade programme. 👨‍🏫

So with the Logitech C920 pro HD webcam (one that has been consistently ranked tops for many years) providing 1080p and 30fps, delivering my webclasses, trainings and workshops now would be a surreal cinematic experience 🎦

A spin-off of this is also the fact that a HD webcam lights up my entire face and makes it glow (so I can’t blame the dim lights in my room anymore). I look more natural, less domineering and it becomes an additional conversation starter for me when my client or audience ask “hey Lionel, how come you still look so fresh despite having to work from home uh?”

So that’s my little tip for you.

✔️ 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐀 𝐋𝐨𝐧𝐠-𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐈𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭

I view buying tech stuff as investment. Just like investing in stocks and bonds, I’m in for the long haul. And getting the right tech stuff does really elevate your brand. Think of it like the vehicle that gets you there 🆙

When you invest in yourself and others see the value, they will also invest in you. This has always been my guiding mantra in life. 😊




Video interviews will soon be the new norm. Here's why...

Because we are living in unprecedented times.

It has been four months since the first case of n-COVID19 and looking at the news reports, it is clear this highly infectious viral outbreak is on the rise.

There is panic buying in supermarkets, where rice, food, vegetables and even toilet paper are cleared off the shelves!

There are a number of countries who are on lockdown mode. Citizens are not allowed to leave and foreigners not permitted to visit.

Schools and places of worship have been shut for sanitization.

Companies have been told to place their staff on different teams, staggered operating hours and start working from home.

Social distancing is one of the newest buzzwords today.

Many businesses have been affected no doubt.

The global economy looks headed for a meltdown.

In Singapore, we are currently under the circuit breaker stay-at-home mode.

With a majority of the population staying at home and working from home, certain dynamics have changed. Amongst this, we have witnessed the rise of technology because almost everything need to be done virtually, from e-learning, webinars to video conferencing.

Yet life goes on...

And it comes as no surprise that video interviews, once viewed as a new and emerging trend, is going to skyrocket in popularity and (perhaps) become the new norm in the job hiring process.

To put it simply, video interviews are a great way to help organisations and companies sieve out applicants effectively and efficiently.

In this blog, let me share 3 tips on how you should prepare for the video interview.


Tip #1: Set The Scene

While it is a video interview, it does not mean you can be dressed shabbily. 

You need to remember that your face (and image) will be showing up on screen. So whether it is via Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype, please make the effort to dress professionally.

But the good news is since you will be sitting down for the interview, you only need to focus on the top (so wear your best long-sleeved shirt, suit, blouse or dress). 

Besides dressing yourself smartly, you should also set the scene appropriately.

By 'scene', I am referring to your surroundings. There are 3 things you should take note.

a) Have A Clean Area

Clear out the clutter on your table or workstation. Have a clean area where you will sit down comfortably. Your workspace should look professional. Do not have any books, newspaper clippings or celebrity posters on the wall.

b) Reduce The Background 'Noise'

You certainly would not want to showcase your bed, TV or wardrobe in the background either. Background 'noise' of such examples should be minimised or eliminated. 

If you are sharing a room or living with others, request them to keep their volume down as well.

Conduct your video interview in a quiet environment as it will help you calm your nerves and be less nervous.

c) Check Your Internet Connection And Power Supply

This is a huge but often neglected one. 

What happens if your internet WiFi signal connection is laggy or not strong?

You certainly would not want any disruptions to your WiFi connection when you are doing your video interview.

If you are going to conduct your video interview on your laptop, then ensure your laptop is plugged in (as you never know how long the interview may last).


Tip #2: Practice Until You Become Comfortable

I doubt many of you take selfies, videos or vlogs daily. That’s also the reason why you feel uncomfortable seeing yourself on screen.

From now on, this has to change.

To ace the video interview, you have to start feeling comfortable in front of the screen.

People say “practice makes perfect”. That is only half true because there is no real perfection in the world. To me, practice makes permanent. It means the more you practise, the less mistakes you make. And all the learnings become part of your conditioning and is embedded into your subconscious…so the next time you don’t even need to think before you act. It comes naturally.

Initially, you may feel a little awkward because you are not actually speaking to any one in particular in the video.

Here’s what you should focus on when practising before the actual video interview.

a) Look At The Camera (And Not Your Own Image)

Almost any novice will make this mistake. So do take note. I know you may feel intrigued or excited seeing your own image in the screen. But that is not where you should be looking.

You should instead be looking at the camera (whether it is a handphone or laptop webcam).

If you keep looking at your own image, you will not be giving eye contact to the interviewers. And this is detrimental. You have been warned.

Once you are comfortable looking at the camera, then I'm going to share with you a piece of good news. Do you know you can actually write a short list of key points on a post-it pad and paste it next to the camera? This is legit and works well on the laptop webcam.

But hey, I said a short succinct list that will help you trigger the stories and examples you would like to share. Not a full essay or long script which you are placing in front of you. Because that will be too obvious!

b) Observe Your Body Language

A video interview is not too different from the regular face-to-face interviews. You still need to engage the interviewer(s) although you may not always be seeing them on screen.

So, use positive body language like suitable gestures, smile often and sit up straight.

c) Video Record Yourself 

This sounds silly but is one of the most practical advice I will give you. Since it's going to be a video interview, you might as well get used to this medium and just video record yourself when practising.

When you review your video recording, you will be able to critique your own performance and improve. You might even notice some idiosyncrasies that you are not aware of.


Tip #3: Check With The HR 

Video interviews come in two options - recorded or live. You could check with the HR which mode it would be.

A recorded video interview means your responses (for whatever questions are asked or flashed across the screen) are recorded. This allows the interviewers to re-watch them them again at a later stage.

I know what you are thinking of. What if you had an awkward expression or squinted your eye? Well, that's why you have to ensure you master the art of giving good eye contact as I mentioned above.

A live video interview entails having an interview with an interviewer on the other end. The added visual element of having an actual person humanises the process. It also allows you to observe the body language of your interviewer and ask him/her questions too at the end of it all.


At the end of the day, just prepare for the video interview using these pointers I highlighted above and I'm sure you will do well. There is no need to feel nervous because remember, you have home ground advantage (the interview is conducted in your own home!)

Best of luck everyone for your video interview!


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