…or just observant? When I watch TV, or do a Zoom call, I look at the people on the screen and say (actually out loud!) things like, “Hat, fringe, perm, goatee, polo-neck, dangly earrings, roots… etc etc”. I say what I see, the first thing that pops into my mind as they appear. I may even pause the TV so I can critique/assess their home (when they’re #wfh). I’ll say, “Messy room, guitars strewn around, blank wall, back-lit, bad lighting, bad camera angle, dressing gown on back of door, coat on back of chair, broken venetian blind… etc”.

In my Remote Media Training Sessions, I teach people about the importance of looking smart and presentable (which includes the room) so as not to distract from what you are saying. But I have become increasingly conscious that I might be a bit judgey!

studio interview with Sarah Lockett
studio interview with Sarah Lockett

If we want to have pink hair, wear a hat indoors, dress down in a hoodie, stencil on our eyebrows, or just look a bit frazzled and working-from-homey, then that’s fine, isn’t it? And other people (me) should be a bit more accepting, tolerant and just kind! People are dealing with a lot right now, they’re doing their best, just keeping their heads above water. And if they manage to do a Zoom call, in between the home-schooling, endless cleaning and cooking for the family, then they should be applauded.

Yes, that’s all true. So I have actually modified my collection of photos of people looking messy/work-inappropriate, which I use in my media training sessions. And I am not having a go at people who aren’t model-beautiful: we don’t all have to be Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Some people wear wigs (after cancer treatment), others wear toupees for self esteem, others LIKE a colourful, wacky, artistic wardrobe; others feel comfortable in more casual clothes. In fact, a client I trained from a large tech company told me: the tech guys actually aren’t taken seriosuly if they dress too smartly, if they DON’T wear hoodies and jeans!

But… having said all that, some rules still hold true. I always say: dress one notch up from how you’d normally dress – one notch smarter, tidier, cleaner, more polished. One client swore she “knew where everything was” in her massively untidy home-office. I advised her to tidy, and I see from her podcasts – she has! And it looks great! Much less distracting.

I promise I’ll be kind and gentle if you book one of my Remote Presentation Skills training sessions, carried out via Zoom. They’re also fun! and if you really want to know what pops into my mind when I see you, I’ll let you know, kindly.


Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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