What Is Virtual Presence?

February 10, 2023

7 min read

What Is Virtual Presence

The internet’s online capabilities have been growing exponentially since the ’90s. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly a catalyst for the transition to virtual classes and workplaces. 

Even though platforms like Zoom existed pre-pandemic, the use of Zoom (and other platforms, like Google Meet) has only increased. Changes are, it’ll continue to increase. Remote work leads to higher engagement and even more productivity. 

We’re online now more than ever, and with this model of work comes new challenges. One of those challenges and considerations with being online constantly is virtual presence.

What Is Virtual Presence?

Virtual presence is the capability to effectively communicate, lead, and connect outside of in-person conversation. Here’s why that’s important. 

Because you’re behind a screen, all someone has to get to know you is an image of your face and your voice. That’s all. You don’t have the luxury of greeting or participating in meetings in person. When you’re in person, people can easily pick up on your full body language. 

Having a good virtual presence makes you stand out. In the same vein, having a less-than-impressive virtual presence can affect how others view you. 

What Is Zoom Fatigue?

Unfortunately, Zoom fatigue and virtual presence often go hand-in-hand. Zoom fatigue is the resulting mental exhaustion and burnout that occurs because of how much time we spend on online video conference calls. Thanks to the shift to remote work, Zoom fatigue is extremely common and can heavily affect your virtual presence.

Although it’s critical to have a good virtual presence, it’s tiring to participate in calls all day. There are a few culprits of Zoom fatigue, including:

  • Spending lots of time close to the screen, making intense eye contact
  • Seeing yourself constantly, thanks to the webcam
  • The fact that you don’t move around as you would in person, so your mobility is limited
  • The challenge of body language, in that you have to over-exaggerate your hand gestures and facial expressions because the overall tone is hard to convey over video

With Zoom fatigue in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of virtual presence. That way, you can tailor your online habits while also remembering to take time for yourself to prevent that exhaustion and burnout.

What Are Examples of Virtual Presence?

Virtual presence encompasses a few different aspects you should know about. For example, the way you look has an effect on how others view you, too. 

Although it might not be fair, if you’re wearing pajamas or have your hair in curlers, people can make prejudiced assumptions about you. Of course, the way you dress has no actual effect on the way you work. Still, it’s something to be aware of. 

Besides how you present yourself, things like the tone of your voice and how confident you are also influence your overall virtual presence. Let’s dig into that a bit more.

How Do You Create a Good Virtual Presence?

Creating a good virtual presence for yourself doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these six tips to create a good virtual presence. 

  1. Turn your camera on. To have a good virtual presence, you should turn on your webcam. It’s so easy to leave your camera off during meetings. However, letting people put a face to the name is always beneficial. Even if you’re feeling insecure, just know that people will appreciate getting to see you (even if it’s just for a 10-minute Zoom meeting). At the same time, make sure you’re looking at the camera, especially when you’re speaking. It’s tempting and only natural to look at the thumbnail of yourself, but looking at the camera during video calls ensures you’re making virtual eye contact. 
  2. Get rid of any distractions. Distractions in the background aren’t generally something you have to consider in person. But for working on your virtual presence, you want to make sure your background is clear of any distractions. This could include anything from family members loudly chatting in the background to a dirty bedroom. It’s best to make sure you’re in a clean, quiet room to capitalize on your virtual presence.
  3. Take a look at your body language. Having a good virtual presence requires both verbal and non-verbal communication (AKA body language). Even though you’re not in person, using appropriate body language is natural and elevates your effective communication. While it’s true that you can’t really utilize full body language, since only your face and upper body are in the frame, you can still use hand gestures, facial expressions, and good posture. This not only engages the audience (in this case, the call’s participants) but also helps communicate and emphasize your point when used correctly. 
  4. Be confident. Confidence is so crucial when it comes to virtual presence. One way you can express confidence is through the tone of your voice. Although it’s easier said than done, speaking in a steady, clear tone does wonders for your outward confidence. If you have trouble being confident when you’re speaking, check out the best public speaking books to inspire you to be the best version of yourself. 
  5. Pay attention to framing. When you’re on a video call, you don’t want to be facing anywhere but the front of the camera. Although you can occasionally look at a participant’s thumbnail, keep yourself in the frame while you make eye contact via the webcam. You can evaluate your framing through an AI speech coach like Yoodli (more on that below!), which will analyze your video and let you know where you can improve, such as if you’re centered. 
  6. Be engaging. Although this could be out of your comfort zone, engaging your audience is a great way to improve your virtual presence. So, for example, in a Zoom meeting, you could ask the participants a simple question before the meeting starts, such as: “Does anyone have any fun plans for the weekend?” A good conversation starter is always a safe bet. If you’re giving a presentation, engagement is even more critical. Ask questions and prompt discussions to get the video call participants involved. 

How to Improve Your Virtual Presence

Nowadays, your virtual presence is absolutely critical to how you’re received at work, in school, and even in everyday conversation. If you’re looking to improve your virtual presence, one of the best ways to do so is to practice. 

You can practice your virtual presence through a communication coach like Yoodli

Yoodli is a free speech coach that relies on AI technology to analyze a user’s speech patterns and effective communication skills. 

It’s very easy to use — simply upload or record a video of yourself practicing speaking and check out the instant analytics. Some of the many analytics included are your word choice (including weak words and filler word usage) and your body language (think facial expressions or hand gestures).

What Is Virtual Presence
You can improve your virtual presence by taking advantage of Yoodli’s free, personalized speech analytics.

One of the best ways to practice is with other people. Try recording a Zoom call with friends or coworkers. Then, upload it to Yoodli. You can improve your virtual presence by focusing on the tips mentioned above and analyzing the individualized insights you’ll get to improve. 

To make it even easier, check out this quick tutorial on how to use Yoodli with Zoom.

Learn how to use Yoodli with your Zoom calls through this crash course.

For example, you might notice that you don’t smile often. If that’s the case, you can make a conscious effort to smile more — when appropriate of course — and work on your body language. 

That’s not to say you can’t practice your virtual presence by yourself. Consider practicing your virtual presence and speaking skills with Yoodli’s interview function. 

What Is Virtual Presence
Responding to questions through Yoodli’s specialized interview function is a great way to practice and improve your virtual presence.

You can practice answering pre-made questions and prompts, like “Tell me about yourself,” or input your own questions directly into the text box. Yoodli will analyze your response and give you actionable tips and feedback you can use to improve your virtual presence.

Why Does Virtual Presence Matter?

Like it or not, your virtual presence can determine how others view you, in both a professional and personal light. Having a good presence while online ensures a better experience for everyone. 

Impressions are important, especially at work, and that alone is a reason to work on your virtual presence. Putting out the wrong virtual presence can affect how people read you. That’s why it’s so important to elevate your virtual presence through body language, framing, engagement, and confidence.

The Bottom Line

Today, virtual presence is everything, whether you’re in a Zoom meeting for work or on a casual video call with friends. Make sure you’re looking and acting your best, since remote work and future career trajectories rely on people getting to know you virtually. 

Unfortunately, working virtually means your coworkers, managers, and bosses can only see part of you and not your full presence, like they would in person. However, that doesn’t mean your career has to suffer for it.


Start practicing with Yoodli.

Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.

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