What prompted this post? Well, meeting virtually has become more popular as it saves travel time and can be used to make (capital-intensive) offline meetings more focused. And I’ve experienced times when the high-ranking persons at the other end did not add value to what they were offering simply because of the image projected.
For example, a virtual meeting was scheduled so that we could run through some preparations for an event to train others in an expansion project. When the camera came on, the Director appeared in an under-shirt which he would not have left his home in. To be honest, I felt embarrassed, because even if we had met in his home, he would not have dressed that way.
So rule number 1 is to remember that when you are having a business discussion, the image you present does have an impact on the meeting. The safest thing to do is to always appear business-like when doing business, whether online or offline.
Rule number 2 is about the image of your surroundings. It is perfectly acceptable (and cost-efficient too) to have a workspace in your home so that you can get work done at any hour you choose. But I recall another meeting when a toddler was sent in to call the Director to dinner, and that changed the tone of our discussion immediately. What would be helpful is for your family to use some offline means of attracting your attention when you are engaged in a virtual meeting.
What about when you are conducting a virtual meeting from your laptop while at a mall? That is done commonly too, and though you may not be able to control passers by peeking into your webcam, what you can do is to avoid that by sitting against a wall so that no one can come up behind you. And needless to say, do chose a quiet environment so that your business can be discussed clearly!