You’re taller and thinner than I expected…

For all those wondering what I actually look like; this is a spot on representation

The last couple of months have been a crazy time for me and my business, Shiageto Consulting.

Post the northern-hemisphere summer and the easing of covid restrictions, suddenly the number of in-person events exploded and it seems that every client out there (and their pet) wanted in-person facilitation and training.

Before we knew it, me and my team were asked to run strategy away days for clients in English Stately Homes, run training events in French Chateaus, take over a luxury spa hotel in the Middle East to develop future leaders, head to Germany to support the launch of a new transformation programme, facilitate 3 days of an event in Amsterdam and more.

All this meant lots of flights, nights away, dinners and, most crucially, finally getting to meet some clients in person that we had worked with for over 2 years but never actually met face-to-face.

Throw in the increasing number of conferences, speaking events and dinners and the world of virtual working was quickly becoming a more distant memory.

So, where’s this blog going? Haven’t you written about this before?

Yes, I’ve previously written about the differences between delivering the same content in person vs online, as well as the initial thrill of moving back to in-person facilitation.

This time I want to reflect on one key aspect that I was not aware of at all and a message that came across loud and clear every time I met people in person for the first time.

Guaranteed, at some point during meeting people I had previously worked with only on an online format or people that had only ever seen me on social media (be it one of my podcasts, posts or photos), they would say the same thing:

Now, whilst in my head I took that as a nice compliment, the more I heard it, the more I began to get paranoid…”just how have I been coming across in the online word?”

Apparently, shorter and fatter is the answer, and I was completely unaware.

So, what’s going on?

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me having any problems with coming across as shorter and fatter (that’s my childhood all over again), it’s more a fascination as to why this kept happening so I went exploring; here’s three things that I discovered (that you might also find interesting):

  1. My computer set-up is sub-optimal: The majority of my online interactions are from my laptop and it seems the combination of cheap camera and not raising my laptop to be head height means that I am always looking down on virtual calls which gives a slightly distorted image (one which can’t help but highlight my burgeoning double chin) — solution; time to get a dedicated webcam and/or ensure the camera is eye-level on calls
  2. I don’t tend to pay attention to lighting on calls: I generally jump on calls without much consideration to my how I am being illuminated. At worst, this could mean I’m chatting in the near-dark or with large shadows across my image (both which don’t help) — solution; get a spotlight
  3. The way I come across online initially is jokey and informal: I love breaking down barriers and connecting with people but it seems this can create an unconscious assumption with people I meet online. As many of us do, we begin to extrapolate various other assumptions from one or two data points (e.g. librarians are naturally introverts). In this case, my tendency for informality actually leads people to make assumptions about my physical characteristics in so much that they associate more jokey people as shorter and fatter — solution; be more conscious about the image I portray particularly if worried about the unintended consequences

Conclusion

So there you go! It’s fascinating how much can be unpacked from one simple statement [or maybe this is more an insight into how my mind works in wanting to understand the drivers behind things].

Certainly it’s given me some food for thought for future working online, plus as I tentatively re-enter the world of online dating (yes, I am now a single man once more) I shall also be keeping this in mind ;)

Faris is the CEO and Founder of Shiageto Consulting, an innovative consultancy that helps firms and individuals sharpen their effectiveness.

Success = IQ x EQ x FQ

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Faris Aranki

Strategist, Facilitator, Emotional Intelligence(ist) with a passion for sorting out the people issues that stop great ideas from being successfully delivered