Headshots 101: Visual Cues


Headshots 101: Visual Cues

Because it only takes a person about a minute to determine likability or integrity, visual cues become distinctly fundamental to successful branding. Up to 95% of all communication is nonverbal, making the importance of your headshots simple math. Even the most subtle differences can vastly change the message you convey to your audience. The following images explore some universal visual cues like gaze, head tilt, color and body position. Is a smile equal to 2,000 bars of chocolate? You be the judge!

Hot or Cold? Warmth Cues Revealed


Crossed arms draw attention upward to the face while minimizing body mass to signify a lower rank. A curious head tilt encourages engagement, while a poised head position conveys confidence. 


Hands are your most revealing visual communicator. For example, fluidity of motion implies confidence, whereas pointing feels threatening. This thumb pinch is a way of pointing in a positive and agreeable manner. Thumbs up!

Advanced Visual Cues

This photo says “take notice” and “I’m in charge.” A steepled hand position indicates status, relaxed confidence and upward mobility. Mirrored fingers communicates equality, whereas one hand over the other communicates superiority. However confident, beware of appearing scheming by tapping your fingers in this position. Open eyes deflect the arrogance that squinting behind steepled hands would have signaled. While pearls are distinctly feminine, cufflinks on a woman is a daring move furthering a bold message of strength, status and leadership.


Virtual Touching

Are virtual meetings holding you back? Not anymore! You can actively ‘touch’ your team with positive body language. Try mirroring or mimicking body language to signal agreement and encourage a favorable response. Mirroring is proven to earn you more money! However, be careful only to mirror positive body language; negative language is a warning that should trigger you to respond accordingly. Also, don’t mirror every cue; it’s not a game of ‘Simon Says’! Use mirroring like an approving nod

Pro Tip: increase distance from your camera to utilize body language. 

You should begin every interaction with receptive body language. A good rule of thumb is to open a conversation with three warmth cues; like a smile, lean or eyebrow raise. Also, remove barriers like a laptop, podium or a coffee cup. These barriers are perceived as such and while they may make you feel secure, they project a feeling of uneasiness. Even removing your watch at the start of a conversation is a positive visual cue! This action indicates that you have time. Conversely, glances away cues distrust and encourages a person to shift their attention to something or someone else. 

Be Yourself!

Ultimately you should be yourself. If you try to fake your visual cues, your verbal and body language will quickly lack the synchronicity necessary to communicate the most important message of all: authenticity. When our actions don’t match our words, we lose engagement, interest and trust. Practice honing subtle nuances to improve your visual communication skills, use accurate body language and select a beneficial profile photo. Don’t worry; you’ve got this!


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