October 15

The “New Normal” – Challenges in Appearance for Video Conferencing

Video conferencing has definitely become the norm in recent months. Whether you’re using Zoom, Skype, Discord, or another platform, it can be challenging to get your look and background just right. 

To help you adjust, we’ll run through some must know tips that will have you looking your best on the webcam.

Tip #1: Invest in a Good Camera

A man is only as good as his tools! This is especially true when it comes to video conferencing and this is a good place to start.

You don’t want to use just any ol’ webcam you find. Many laptop cameras for instance can be subpar and have issues even after you play with the settings. 

Older webcams may not have the picture quality you’re after either.

Doing research into the best webcam for you and your equipment will make all the other tips much easier to achieve.

You don’t want to be working against your camera the entire time. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your friends or co-workers what they have been using and what they like about their own choices.

Opting for a more modern webcams (that aren’t built-in to your system and aren’t $10 at the local store) will help you achieve a better picture (even in low light) and improved sound while also coming with autofocus, wider fields of view, and zoom without loss of quality.

Tip #2: Dress and Look the Part

Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you should work all day in your pajamas.

While that can be acceptable sometimes, when you’re on your video conference, you still want to create a good impression.

However, it is suggested that you can dress down “one level” for these types of meetings, too!

But, did you know that what you choose to wear (even if it’s one of your favorite professional outfits) can also have a negative impact on your appearance on camera?

Very bright colors and black actually don’t work well on video conferences.

Opting for a shirt that matches the background of your room, like a bright white on a white wall, could also have you looking like a floating head!

You will want to:

  • Opt for neutral colors, cool shades, or pastels
  • Skip the patterns
  • Leave the jewelry in your jewelry box
  • Get ready as you normally would (i.e. brush your hair)
  • Choose something that boosts your confidence!

Tip #3: Give Extra Thought to the Background

You’re obviously not going to set up for your video conference call in the bathroom, but you definitely want to give more thought to the space than simply, “this works.”

If it’s too distracting, the people in your meeting will constantly be looking over your shoulder.

You also don’t want it to be cluttered or messy, setting off a bad impression.

Choosing a more plain background with a touch of your personality can help keep the focus on you.

Some programs, like Zoom, also let you choose a different, virtual background. You can even create your own!

Tip #4: Don’t Forget About Lighting

One of the things many forget when they sit down for their next video conference is lighting. When it comes to good photography, a photographer needs good lighting, and it’s also true for these meetings.

If you have your back to a window, you’ll appear as a dark shape. If you have a light just to the side of your face, you may have half of your face lit and the other half in shadow.

Fluorescent lights can also be damaging to your appearance and cast shadows that don’t put you in your best light.

Placing a light in front of your face, behind the camera can actually be the perfect placement.

You may also want to sit facing the window instead and brighten your face with some natural light.

Tip #5: Get the Angle Right

Even if you have the best webcam possible, if you don’t have it on the right angle, you could have people looking up your nose.

A good rule of thumb is to keep it at eye level.

You also want to get the perspective correct. If you’re too close to the camera, it will give you a wide-angle appearance.

Sitting or stepping back just a bit can help you look more like your natural self.

If you’re not quite sure how the angle looks, try turning on the webcam just before the meeting starts so you can get yourself in the right position ahead of time.

Video conferences may very well be here to stay for the foreseeable future, and maybe even beyond that.

Whether you’re meeting with co-workers or a new client, it’s essential to make a good impression.

Following these five tips when you’re getting ready for your next video conference will definitely get you on the right track for success.