Improving Your Video Presence: Beyond The Basics For Your Video Calls With Shelley E. Golden

by | May 28, 2020 | Podcasts

SWGR 524 | Video Presence


Now that we are all doing video calls, you are probably familiar with the basics. However, there is still so much more that you can do. Joining Elizabeth Bachman on the show today is International Style Expert Shelley E. Golden, who shares some easy ways to tweak your video presence so you show up with confidence, charisma, and credibility! Tune in to this episode and start attracting the people you want to do business with and in your life.

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Improving Your Video Presence: Beyond The Basics For Your Video Calls With Shelley E. Golden

How To Have Confidence, Charisma And Credibility!

I get to interview interesting experts from around the world to help us do that, all the facets of what it takes to be a great presenter. Before we begin, I want to invite you to take my free assessment. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes called In 3 or 4 minutes, you can see where you are rocking your presentation skills and where you might want a little bit of support. I’d like to welcome Shelley Golden, an international stylist. Shelley, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me.

Shelley has had an interesting background. She’s being an image consultant and fashion stylist as part of her background because she’s the fourth generation in the fashion and clothing business. She’s been a wholesale rep for women’s clothing manufacturer in Chicago. As a corporate men’s and women’s fashion stylist and personal shopper, she was one of the first stylists to organize and present dress for success seminars and presentations to corporations and educational institutions. She’s produced fashion shows domestically and internationally, designed costumes for the theater. She is an accomplished and trained seamstress and tailor.

Shelley, you and I have gone on and on about corsets and fashions. We can geek out about that, but I’m not going to subject you to that. The other thing that is wonderful about Shelley is this is an international show and we have audiences around the world. Shelley lived in Europe and Abu Dhabi for fifteen years, which opened her eyes to the variety of ways people around the world put them together with color, fabric, and design. Before we get into the do’s and don’ts of how to be great, your online presence, I’m going to ask you what I ask all my guests which is, “Who is your dream interview? If you could interview somebody from history, who would it be? What would you ask them? Who should be in the audience?”

SWGR 524 | Video Presence

Video Presence: The minute you see the top of somebody’s head, you know that the camera is actually too high.


When you told me that this was the question you were going to ask me, the first person that came into my mind was the first couturier. His name was Charles Frederick Worth from the mid-19th century and he made the most beautiful gowns. As part of my bio, I’m a costume historian and I’ve taught History of Costume in Fashion Design School and I’ve lectured on it. Historical costumes are my pitter-patter, my passion. He designed the most exquisite gowns and the richest women from around the world would go to Paris to have gowns made for them by Charles Frederick Worth. When I lived in Boston, I worked at a historical society in Wellesley and they had an amazing historical costume collection. It’s Boston, it has some of the oldest clothes in the United States, and they had two Charles Frederick Worth gowns that the details were amazing. I would love to interview him too, to talk to him, how he came up with these ornate designs? How he established the first couture house that women would come and pay him large sums of money to make exquisite gowns? That would be my dream interview.

If you read through the 19th century and early 20th-century literature, you hear people talking about The Worth Gown, a Gown by Worth. I’m curious why you say he was the first couturier? Why not say one of the people designed clothing for Louis Couture or Queen Elizabeth?

He didn’t design clothing for 1 or 2 clients. He had almost like a storefront as you would say now, that people from anybody could walk into. It wasn’t just going to the King or the Queen and creating clothing for them. Anybody could walk in if they had the money to pay for the gowns. That’s a different story because it was some richest people in the world who could only afford these gowns. That’s the difference. It was the first house of fashion that anybody could walk into.

We are in 2020 and we’re doing a whole lot of work on online presence. Let’s go to the conversation we had about online presence. The reason I wanted to talk to you is that we’re all doing Zoom calls all the time or not just Zoom. I know Google has an online service. Microsoft has an online service. I’ve got one client I work with on Skype because she can’t be bothered to learn the new one. She knows Skype, so she says, “I’m going to do this.” Most of us are now fairly familiar with online conversations. We’re still in the middle of a shutdown and everything’s been moving online. I do firmly believe that live meetings will come back once we figure out how to do it safely.

In the meantime, it’s time for us to go beyond the basics. I’m a presentation skills trainer. You are a stylist. We both work with experts and it’s amazing the mistakes that people make and one of the key things you can find out is as you are speaking, make sure you know who you’re talking to and how they expect you to be dressed. I don’t care what you’re wearing below the frame, but also if you’re going to do gestures, make sure that the gestures are up here in the frame so you’re not doing this thing where your hands flicker in there. If you’re doing a speech that’s a sales speech or an enrollment speech, pretend you’re talking to your best friend even if they are not necessarily on the call. Shelley, you’re going to tell us all the rest about increasing and enhancing your online presence. Please, how can we do this?


It’s important, first of all, that you know that you are living as I call it in the box. Whatever people see in the box is all they see. They don’t necessarily see all your body gestures, but the first thing that they notice, first of all, is the lighting. You want your face to be lit up. You want people to be able to see you. You don’t want to have lighting come from the back. You don’t want to be backlit. You don’t want to have one side of your face completely flooded with light and the other side completely dark. If you do have external lights, you would want them at 10:00 and 2:00, so then it’s not directly in your eyes. You don’t have a little reflection in your eyes or if you wear glasses, you don’t have the reflection in your glasses. It is challenging.

I would add a point that remember, we see what the camera sees. If I looked at you live, my eye and brain would compensate for things. I would say, “That’s Shelley. That’s what it is.” The camera only picks up with the camera picks up. If you have a light behind you, it’s going to pick up the light behind you, not your face. That’s something that people forget. We get used to conversations back and forth that we forget. We have to pay attention to what the camera’s going to pick up.

The camera only picks up light and dark. The light, whatever’s white light, comes forward. Whatever is dark recedes. That’s why lighting is the first thing that people see. For example, sitting in my box, you see this white flower more prominently than you see the other flowers because it is whiter. It’s not that it’s bigger. It’s the fact that it’s lighter, whiter, and that’s what the camera sees. After you’re looking at the lighting, the second thing you want to look at is your camera angle. I’m on Zoom often and I see many people that are sitting with their head at the bottom of the box and it’s almost like you’re talking to a floating head at that point. It’s important that the camera is eye level or a tiny bit higher than eye level so that you don’t get the droopy eye dog look looking down to your camera. If the camera was a little bit higher than your eyes or is a little bit higher, then it forces you to open your eyes up to look up to the camera. This way the person who’s talking to you that the other people on the Zoom, WebEx, and Skype session can feel like you’re talking to them.

This is something you have to practice too. I have a separate camera above the level of the laptop. I’m looking at you down but if I look up, it looks like I’m looking right at you. If you have the camera too far separated from the screen where you’re seeing the other person, that’s when you see this thing.

You don’t want to see the top of people’s heads. The minute you see the top of somebody’s head, you know that the camera is too high. For some women, especially in the time of COVID, you can’t get to the salon to get your hair colored. Maybe some people don’t necessarily want the tops of their heads being shown. There’s also the grocery store and fast temporary hair dyes. The camera angle is the next thing. Lighting, camera angle and then one of the most important things that I talked to many people about because I’m doing a lot of Zoom makeovers for people is, “What is your background? What does it look like in the box?”

When you’re talking to somebody in an in-person meeting, you are in the room whatever the room is. Wherever you happen to be meeting, whether it’s a coffee shop, it’s an office or conference room, that’s the room. Here, chances are you’re at home or you’re in an exterior office. What people see in the box, it tells them so much about you. Are you a slob? Do you have a simple setting? Do you have an ornate setting? Are you unkempt? The reality is that people had before life on Zoom occurred and people had in-person meetings with you, they had a certain level of respect for you.

With video calls, what you wear is very strategic in terms of what your background is. Share on X

They had confidence the level of respect for you and had a visual of how they would meet with you and now, you’re inviting them into your home, whether you want to invite them into your home or you don’t. Granted not everybody’s home even has a nice corner. Sometimes people have too many kids and they’re in the kitchen and there are people and pets running around. This is the reality. There are virtual backgrounds and there’s a real background.

You’ve got a real background. I’m in front of a virtual background. Let’s talk a little bit about the difference and how to plan for that.

Let’s talk about virtual backgrounds. I’m not a virtual background expert, but there are different ways to obtain virtual backgrounds. If you’re on Zoom, Zoom has some pre-established virtual backgrounds that you can click on. I’m not going to get into how to do that but if you don’t have a green screen, you will come in and out of the virtual background. Your hair will grow and will flatten. I have a cup of tea. If I were chatting with Elizabeth, I wouldn’t normally not feel like inhibited to have a cup of tea. If I’m in a virtual background without a green screen, that cup might go in and out of view. It’s a little distracting. It’s the distraction in the background that makes all the difference. Elizabeth has a virtual background, but she has a green screen. It almost sets the background. If you move, Elizabeth, you’re not going to have woozy parts. Her hair and shoulders aren’t going to go in and out. That’s one of the differences with virtual backgrounds. Additionally, with virtual backgrounds, you can upload your own visual, you can take a picture, you can download it from the web and then upload it. You could even take a picture of a nice office and that’s your background, a nice living room or a view out a mountain view, whatever works for you.

We’re giving you a little peek behind the scenes of how to go beyond the basics with your video calls was part of why I wanted to have her. I knew she’d have a real background and I wanted to show you a branded one to give you an idea about that. I had someone on my team who does graphics and she did 5 or 6 different versions of what was going to show up best. This is the background for the show because this is going to become an episode. If I am a guest on someone else’s show, for instance, on Monday night, an interview webinar series in Munich is having me on. I’m going to have something that’s branded with my actual business name, Strategic Speaking For Results, instead of the one for the show. That’s also a choice to decide how you’re going to do that. You can bet I consulted with Shelley about what to wear against this background.

In terms of what to wear, it’s strategic in terms of what your background is. My basic rule of thumb in terms of clothing is don’t wear busy prints, don’t wear stripes because if you are only in the box and chances are people only see from the armpits up, there’s only a small amount of what you’re wearing showing that is taking up 1/4 to 1/3 of the entire screen in the box. If you have a stripe or a busy print, you don’t want somebody’s eyes to have to figure out, “Is that disturbing? Is that a circular print, a zigzag print?” You don’t want them to have to zero in on your print unless it’s a small print. My suggestion is to wear solid colors.

Video Presence: When you’re looking at something that’s symmetrical, it’s easier on the eye.


Does that apply to backgrounds as well in terms of busy backgrounds?

No, because people sometimes are in offices. You mean if you’re wearing solid colors with a busier background?

In the choice of your background, you don’t want it to be busy that people can’t see you?

When I’m working with people and they do have a busier background, I try to make it less busy. I try to make it optically aligned and pleasing. If people do have bookshelves behind them, it’s best to have all the books either one direction or the other. Have all the books vertically. You don’t want to have some vertically, you’re shoving some books, some magazines or newspapers and some other little things. You want it to be vertical so that it’s easier on your eye. Get rid of all the junk. Too many family photographs in a round frame and a square frame. It’s too much for the eye to deal with. If you do have family photos and you want to keep them, make sure all the frames are more or less the same shape. It’s the same with the artwork on your wall if you’re in an office. I was working with a woman the other day and we were trying to create the illusion, a nice background, and she was bringing in various paintings to put on her wall. She had a modern painting with a black frame, which was nice. We didn’t want to have a gilded frame or a completely different field. We wanted to keep all the same feelings so that it’s easier on the eye. There’s more symmetry. When you’re looking at something symmetrical, it’s easier on the eye.

I would also add to that if you’re going to use one of the artificial backgrounds because maybe you’ve got a wall behind you, you can project it on or whatever. Please don’t do any of the ones with the rolling waves or the cosmos. It’s funny if you’re doing a fun chat with a friend, but for me, it gives me eye trouble. My eyes are always trying to focus on that. That’s all I can look at. I can’t look at the face of the person I’m talking to and it makes my eyes hurt after a while. Here’s a thought. I know you do Zoom makeovers for men as well. Does this all apply to men? Are the rules or roles different?

The rules are the same. The only difference is men aren’t going to enhance their look with makeup, that’s all. I would stick with solid colors. I want to go back to color. Elizabeth and I, there’s symmetry in both of our visuals and we have contrast in both of our boxes in our visuals. We have symmetry in the fact that we have something to our left and our right and there are slightly different heights. It creates a little bit of a line of perspective. Elizabeth has the microphone in front of her and the visual of the Speakers Who Gets Results on either side of her. There you have a balance and it’s easier on the eye in terms of colored clothing. Elizabeth is standing out from her background. She has blue and white in the background, but she has a dark jacket with a pop of color with her scarf. The white top even if I know that personally, I know that it’s not white-white, but it appears white because the camera only picks up light and dark. It appears white, which pulls out and matches the white in the Speakers Who Gets Results wording.


I was surprised when you told me that the pale picture I had was reading as white and that yellow would read as white as well.

If you’re wearing an off white, you’re wearing a pale pink, you’re wearing pale blue or sometimes I’m talking to people, they have mint green walls. It looks white because the camera only picks up the light and the dark. There are nuances. Even myself, because I’m in this gray and white background to stand out from it, I’m wearing red, but I also wear a lot of bright colors. I wear a lot of black and white, which would not work on this background.

Half the clothes in your closet are gathering dust because you’re on Zoom all the time.

About three-quarters of my closet.

I was looking at the things and I said, “These are all things that are meant to be worn when people can see all of me and it’s the same blue sweater that’s coming out every day.”

It’s life on Zoom and I’m wearing the same few things because 3/4 of my wardrobe is black and white. Even my boyfriend when I told him that I’m not wearing black and white, he was like, “That’s so much of your wardrobe.” When you walk into my closet, it’s black and white.

We’ve talked about light. We’ve talked about the background. What else do we need to know to enhance to go beyond the basics for your online presence?

To go beyond the basics, it’s your posture. It’s how you sit. It’s how you appear in the box. You ergonomically want to be sitting at a right angle for the most part, if not sitting back a tiny bit. What we get into trouble is people are leaning over their computers looking down. Many people are having neck problems. A chiropractor that I know said she has more young people coming in than ever before because they’re all techies doing this with their head back. It’s important if you need to invest in external light, and a camera, put your computer on some boxes and books. Buy an external keyboard and mouse so that you can sit comfortably, that your spine is in the correct alignment.

In terms of placing your body inside the box, you want your head to be in the upper third of the screen. If you could show your hand on the top of your head, then you have enough space on top of your head. You don’t want to have your head at the top and you don’t want to have your head all the way at the bottom. You want to be able to sit up and have a distance on top of your head that it looks like you’re talking to somebody. When you’re talking to somebody in both of your eyes are at the same level, it’s easier. It’s more intimate. It feels like you’re engaged in a conversation right there with the person.

Sometimes small patterns can have a moiré effect, that's why it's just easier to wear solid colors. Share on X

You can find this out, you watched the news shows and the commentators because everybody’s commenting from home these days. I found that since we’ve been all been talking online and on web calls, I’m paying a lot of attention to the backgrounds that the way the commentators are doing things. There’s one commentator who’s regularly on the show that my family watches about dinner time who’s talking from his kitchen, but it’s clean. I thought, “I wonder if there is no other spot in his house where he could get privacy when he’s making policy statements from the kitchen?”

These are things that nobody knows.

This is a thing to notice when you’re watching TV. The next time you’re watching a news show, pay attention to where the commentators are and how they have set themselves up to frame it.

To noticing where they are and how they are set up, there are two more things. One, I have noticed being in the fashion and clothing business that most of the people on television, the news commentators and presenters are wearing solid colors. They are wearing colors. They are not wearing black and white. The women usually, you look on the news, they have colored clothing. Pick a color of the rainbow. You don’t see somebody wearing black and certainly not white. That’s one thing.

Secondly, for men who do wear ties when you’re being photographed or shirts, sometimes there’s an effect that happens. It’s called a moiré effect in which you get this wavy effect. When the pattern is a small repeating pattern, it could be a stripe. The camera can’t identify the pixels. It has to do with the pixels. If the camera can’t identify the pixels, you sometimes get this wavy effect. That’s why a lot of people on television are being photographed that have solid colors or have a big broad stripe tie. Not that people are necessarily going always to wear a tie on Zoom, WebEx or Skype, but giving you the idea that sometimes small patterns can have a moiré effect. That’s why it’s easier to wear solid colors.

For the men, when is it appropriate to wear a suit with or without a tie? When is it appropriate to wear a shirt? When is it appropriate to wear a T-shirt?

First of all, 100% of that depends on where you live and who you’re speaking with.

Rule number one of presentation skills is who’s listening?

SWGR 524 | Video Presence

Video Presence: The whole thing is the focal point. You want to focus in on the eyes. You want people to look at you just as if you’re talking to them.


Who are you speaking to? Elizabeth and I have both lived in Europe. We’ve lived in the United States. We get the international flavor and the way people dress, the way people look at you. If you’re wearing a suit, it depends where you are, who you are, what you do and who your audience are. This is something that you need to figure out yourself. In terms of whether you wear a tie or not, it’s the same thing. I happen to live now in my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. Elizabeth has lived here for a long time, on and off, and it’s extremely casual. I have a German client, a man, and he came to me because he didn’t understand how to dress for business casual in New York, LA, and San Francisco because all three of those business casuals are different. He didn’t understand the nuance of how to present himself in those three business climates. There are nuances and I’m always happy to talk to anybody who needs a little bit of help but it depends where you are and who your audience is.

Rule one is to make sure you’re at least well-groomed.

You want to be well-groomed. You also don’t want your hair sticking up. A little bit of hair oil sometimes helps that because depending upon your lighting, your light will pick up strands of hair. Even if you’re growing a beard, it’s okay but you don’t want it to be super straggly. You want to make sure you don’t have any food around your mouth. Women, make sure if you do put makeup on that’s not smeared.

Talk to us about the contour. Shelley gave me a lesson on this. She told me that I was doing makeup for the street, not the camera.

This is a two-dimensional screen and like an artist painting a painting. When I lived in Europe, I studied the Dutch masters in European painting. When you’re painting a painting on a two-dimensional surface, you have to create the illusion of three-dimensionality. The camera picks up light and dark. You have a flat face. For women who do wear makeup, not all women wear makeup. If you do wear some makeup, you want to create the illusion of some cheekbones. You want to create the illusion that you do have a difference between your chin, the tip of your chin, underneath your chin, and your neck. The only way to create this is with dark and light. To create higher cheekbones, take some bronzer and highlight in a sickle pattern. Go around your cheekbone up to your hairline. You don’t put any blush here. The camera picks up the light. That brings my cheekbone forward and what’s underneath is dark.

It looks like I have cheekbones even though I don’t have any cheekbones. It’s the same for your chin or if you have jowls, you want to make a variation, the difference between your chin. You would want to create a line, the illusion that this is your chin line and this is darker underneath. You would not walk out onto the street like this. It’s for the camera. It’s also a way to create a longer neck. One of my little tricks is if you put your collar up in the back and down in the front, what it’s doing is it’s creating a vertical line. It’s vertical lines, it’s slimming down my neck whereas if I put the collar down, I already have a long neck.


I have a shawl collar. The dark blue is a shawl collar and the white already has a V-neck.

For those people who don’t have long necks or who have broader necks, that fleshier neck, if you put it up in the back and down in the front, you have a vertical line. In this way, your eyes look up and down and not side to side.

The idea is to get your eyes to the face of the person you’re talking to.

The whole thing is the focal point. What you want to do for the face zooming in a little bit more on the face, you want people to look at you as if you’re talking to them, “Look into my eyes.” You want to focus on the eyes. If you’re taking and creating a frame, you need eyebrows, or if you have glasses that would suffice. Sometimes you want to make sure that people can see your eyebrows. Maybe for women, you could pencil them in. Guys, you have what you have, and also for the bottom part of your frame are your lips. You would want to put a little bit darker lipstick on it. The camera picks up light and dark, it doesn’t always matter at the exact color. It matters how light and dark it is.

As a color consultant, I am particular about what color you wear, but not everybody has the right colors. Do you want to go out and buy them? Maybe you can, ideally you want to try to pick up the color in your clothing or your background. It’s easier for the eye to see a few colors and shades. It’s easier on the eye as if I had this tomato red jacket on with bright fuchsia lipstick, there’d be a juxtaposition. Whereas again, it’s easier on the eye so you could focus on my face. If it’s the same color, then you don’t notice it as much.

What I love about Shelley is that she sees differences in colors that I don’t because that’s her training and I look at them and I say, “That’s blue, red and whatever,” and she says, “No. It’s all different things.” I don’t care about other people, but I care about me because if there’s somebody else like Shelley who has that color sense, I notice the way people talk. I notice the way people show up and things that others might not notice. I want if there’s somebody who has an eye for color, I’m going to go to Shelley and say, “I know I only see the basics. I want you to help me with the subtleties and what’s going to fit me best.” This is why I work with Shelley. I know this is something that I won’t notice. Sometimes the colors that I love are not the ones that look the best on me. That was a hard one.

I do want to say in terms of setting the stage when I was creating this little vignette here, I had these white flowers, which seemed a little bit stark and I knew that I would be wearing a jacket that was something of this color since that’s the other colors I have besides black. This particular flower, I knew that it has a little more pink in it and I knew that would soften it up. It reflects the same pinky-red that I have on as opposed to bringing in a yellow flower that would be adding yet another color. It’s best to stick with two colors. A third color is a pop color. For example, my set is gray and white with a pop of red. Elizabeth’s set is blue and white with a pop of grape in terms of her scarf and her hair, which is the blonde in the front, but it’s blue and white. Those are your two colors.

The nuance of how to present yourself depends on where you are and who your audience is, but make sure you're at least well-groomed. Share on X

It’s easier on the eye to have two colors. Even if you have a neutral room or your office, it’s a neutral color, neutral grounds. You want to stick with two colors and a third color can be a pop. That’s how the eye seems to feel most comfortable. If you have all one color, you certainly wouldn’t want to wear black in a black room with everything black or if it’s black and white then it’s stark, but if you have a third color, it softens it up a little bit. That’s one of the rules that I speak to that I advise my clients when you’re dressing, “Choose two colors and the third color is your pop color.”

Your accent color is something to pop up. Shelley Golden, this has been amazing. Thank you for doing this and setting yourself up so that you can be a good example to us all. It’s wonderful. If you’re curious about enhancing your presentation skills, then you could go to my quiz, which is the That’s where you can see where your presentation skills are great, where you’re rocking it, and where maybe you might need a little bit of support. I’ll see you all.


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About Shelley E. Golden

How To Have Confidence, Charisma And Credibility!Shelley Golden helps you to create a unique style to boost your confidence to attract the people you want to do business with and in your life.

As the fourth generation in the clothing business, she has over 20 years of experience working as a stylist with textiles and design and has lived in Europe and the Middle East. Shelley brings her understanding of international style and the nuances of “business casual” in various parts of the world as well as the importance of social and cultural etiquette.

She aims for the“Wow, You Look Amazing!” look.

Shelley Golden is an expert in her field and is passionate about helping men and women with their PERSONAL BRANDING through their clothing, She helps individuals enhance their style based on who they aspire to be to get them to the next level both professionally and socially.Shelley also works with companies and groups on how to enhance their image to compete more successfully on a national and global scale. “Shelley truly has the GOLDEN touch!”