We have all been there. You turn on your computer, log into your video call then you realize you look tired, washed out or like a dark blob on camera! Do you really look that bad? The good news is there are several quick and easy adjustments you can make that will have you looking better and more professional in your virtual meetings.
Lighting – Walk around your house with your computer or phone camera to see the different lighting options available and where you look best on screen. The simplest option is natural light from a window; your face will be lit evenly eliminating shadows and hiding imperfections. Be sure to avoid direct sunlight and any lighting from above, both create unflattering shadows on your face or will overexpose your face. If a window is not an option put a lamp in front of your computer (not shining directly at your face). If you do not have a lamp, a computer screen or tv that is tuned into a white screen will brighten your face just like being in front of a window. Just go to YouTube and search for a white screen – this works great.
Camera perspective – Make sure the camera is at eye level or slightly higher. This will make your eyes appear more open, you will look more alert. Most likely, you will need to raise your computer with a box, book or even a large pasta pot – whatever works. No one but you will see it. Don’t get too close to the camera either, it’s a wide-angle lens and your head will look wider the closer you get to it.
What are you wearing? If it’s a work call, wear clothes you would wear to work. Don’t show up in a baseball hat and gym shorts if that isn’t what you would normally wear at work. Even though your bottom half will most likely not show up on screen, wear work attire. You never know if you’ll end up needing to stand to get a pen, quiet your barking dog or answer your door for a delivery.
Wear solid clothing or simple patterns. Busy patterns can make your viewers’ eyes tired. White or very light colors and very dark colors often don’t look good on camera, all the detail gets lost. Lastly, don’t wear clothes the same color as your background, you don’t want to look like a floating head!
Think about your background. Is the room behind you neat? Are there clothes on the floor? Is someone sleeping on the couch behind you? Do your best to remove clutter and clean up the area behind you. If it still is distracting, use a virtual background. It may be a little cheesy but it’s better than seeing your family walk back and forth behind you throughout the whole call. Here’s how to do it. (https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/210707503-Virtual-Background)
If you don’t like any of the virtual backgrounds provided and you don’t have any good shots you took on vacation, you can download some options here (https://www.pexels.com/search/%20background/) for free.
Put up a Do-Not-Disturb sign if other people are home with you. If it’s younger children, let them know when this piece of paper is on your door, they can’t come in and let them know when you will be done with the call. Remember you can quickly cover your camera lens with your finger or a post-it-note while you pause your video if an emergency comes up that you don’t want to share with everyone.
Occasionally, you will need to leave the meeting before it is over or maybe you drank a little too much coffee. This is fine but turn your camera off before you get up and always mute your audio unless you are talking, not everyone will love the chirping birds outside your window.
This sounds simple but Neaten Up Your Appearance. Put on some makeup if you wear it. Run a comb through your hair. I can’t say it enough about how important sitting up straight and not hunching over is. It will make you look more professional and interested in the conversation. If you still aren’t looking your best, there is a button in Zoom called “touch up my appearance”. It will slightly blur your image which will ease any imperfections, without being obvious. To find this magic button go to the Zoom preferences box in the tabs, under video section, in the lower section, check the box marked “touch up my appearance” and your all set.
Pay attention to the others in the meeting. Don’t look at your phone, eat your lunch or do your nails. It’s a meeting, act like you would in an in-person meeting. Having a cup of coffee or water is acceptable.
Remember a slight smile can make you look considerably better. Many times, our “concentration faces” may make us look unhappy or angry. A slight smile will make you look happy to be there and engaged in the conversation.
Virtual Meetings give an opportunity to remain productive when meeting in person does not seem practical. Put in 100% during these meetings staying engaged and offering solutions. Virtual Meetings are a major part of everyday business that are not going anywhere anytime soon. Its time to get comfortable with them and put your best foot forward
By Genny Ascanio, Senior Graphic Designer