Karren Brady's career advice from overcoming video call anxiety to fears of changing job


APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your career questions.

Today she shares her top tips on overcoming fears of video calls while working from home and a woman whose scared of change but wants to leave her job.

Q: I have been working from home for almost a year, but I still feel really uncomfortable on video calls.

I hate seeing my own face the whole time and I struggle to get my voice heard as people talk over me and I find it hard to speak up.

I even feel self-conscious doing Zoom calls with my friends and family. Do you have any tips for getting over my video-calling phobia?

Beth, via email

A: I think many of us feel very similarly to you about video calling, Beth, but there are a few things you can do. Ensure people can see who they are speaking to by positioning yourself by a window, or invest in a small LED light (Amazon sells them for under £20).

Apply Touch Up My Appearance in your Zoom settings, which helps “smooth” you out naturally without using ridiculous filters. Also, get your angle right – if you place your laptop on top of a few books it does wonders for double chins like mine!

Make sure your volume is up, keep your dress professional for work calls and add a virtual background if your workspace is not that tidy. 

In terms of making yourself heard, good posture is the first step to being assertive. When talking, look straight into the camera and maintain a strong, clear voice. You need to sound as self-assured as possible – if you don’t have confidence in what you’re saying, no one else will either.

Keep what you say short and to the point, and if you are interrupted, say politely but assertively: “Would you please allow me to finish my point?” And lead by example. If someone else is interrupted, it is fine to say: “Would you mind holding on as I was very interested in what that person was saying.” This should encourage inclusive, respectful behaviour.

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Q: I’ve worked at my current company for six years. A while ago, I was very unwell with an eating disorder and had to take lots of time off, but my boss was brilliant and so supportive.

Unfortunately, they have left the company, and I’m wondering if I should go, too. There’s no prospect of progression and I’m finding my new boss unapproachable.

However, I’m struggling with the idea of change and worried the grass won’t be greener elsewhere. Do you have any advice?

Gemma, via email

A:  Congratulations on getting your life back on track after what must have been a very difficult time. I’m sure that thinking about leaving your job must be making you feel very anxious, but remind yourself you are strong and have faced tougher, more difficult situations and come through them. My advice is simple.

Start to look for another job that you feel better suits your long-term goals. Maybe reconnect with your previous boss and see if they have any new openings where they are now working.

Having a job you look forward to doing every day, in an environment that is supportive, is really important to having a strong and healthy state of mind. Meanwhile, take the time to build a better, positive relationship with your current boss.

You never know, maybe just taking them into your confidence and asking for support will reap the benefits and lead to the kind of relationship you enjoyed with your previous manager.

Best of luck.

Compiled by: Claire Frost

Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice

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