“Tough times always call for tough measures.” And during this COVID-19 pandemic era, this quote is even more palpable. We are all forced to adapt and fully immerse ourselves in maximizing communication tools — prominently, video conferencing. Albeit not entirely new, video conferencing tools such as Zoom became our lifeboat not only in bridging the distance between us and our loved ones but as well as in sustaining our professional work remotely.
This pandemic made video conferencing our new normal for remote work. We spend multiple hours in a day at a Zoom meeting — either attending a class, a seminar, or a professional meeting.
But we wouldn’t want anyone to think that we feel too comfortable in our bedrooms during a meeting, right? It’s hard to stay optimistic as we wait for the pandemic, but it doesn’t hurt to look your best. We’ve compiled a list of tips so you can be poised and professional during Zoom meetings!
- Be mindful of your appearance
No one wants to look like a “blob” in person. Sure, while you are in a more relaxed environment (you are literally in the comfort of your own home), you still need to look presentable.
So, start with the basics. Groom yourself! Wash your face, comb your hair, apply light makeup or shave your face. Then strategize your clothing.
Prioritize using more plain or solid colors, which will look more comfortable through the screen. Steer away from shirts that look too bright or dark for they won’t compliment much with your light source. Also, stray away from plaid and busy patterned clothing that numbs the eyes through a computer screen.
- Use a light source
Know the most important natural element in preparing for a video call: lighting.
Lighting is essentially what makes or breaks a good appearance at a web conference. Sure, as much as good equipment quality matters, if you fail to provide good lighting techniques to your face, then your equipment will render useless.
✓ Always consider the proximity of your light to your face
The light must always be in your direction. If you place the light behind you, your image will only look shadowy, showing only your silhouette.
✓ Double-check the weather in your area if you want to use natural lighting
Natural lighting takes the cake compared to artificial lighting. Although, as much as natural light is better at providing a “truer” look as if in real life, it is subject to change throughout the day depending on the sun’s position. Weather systems can change, too. The lighting of a bright, sunny morning at 10 am can unexpectedly change into hazy gray lighting at 3 pm because of rain. So, be mindful of the time and weather if you do decide to opt for natural lighting.
Face your window, never put natural light behind your face or else, it will be dark and shadowy.
✓ Use a steady artificial light source
If you find the weather a bit too temperamental for natural lighting, then you can always use artificial lighting.
Place a steady lamp or ring light that can provide sufficient lighting for you during a call. Be mindful of the proximity of the light to your face and its intensity because it can be a bit harsh to other people who are looking at you through the screen.
Replace harsh, white bulbs with more flattering soft LED lights with a higher color rendering index to give you a better appearance.
✗ Avoid a “shady face”
“Shady face” is when half of your face is shaded or blocked in some way. This happens when your light source is on either side of your face. Avoid this by putting a light source in front of you.
- Always check your camera’s perspectives
Wide-angle cameras, which are mostly used in webcams and smartphones, are used to shoot a wider frame perspective. Meaning, as you get closer to the camera, the more distorted you will look. So when using these cameras, you need to step back to look more flattering.
Your camera’s perspective also determines your proximity to it. You should always be framing your shoulders up, to a point just above your head. Avoid talking too close to the camera, especially when using wide-angle ones. No audience member wants to see the speaker’s nostrils!
Framing your camera in front of you at eye level is one of the most important things you should do. If you are having a hard time placing your camera at eye level, it’s either you stack a bunch of books as a stand or you elevate your chair.
One common no-no is putting the camera below chin level as it will only expose your double chin. On the other hand, putting the camera too high will expose too much of your forehead so see to it that your camera is sitting at eye level.
- Avoid a cluttered background
Oftentimes, to provide more “personality” in a Zoom call, people put photographs, trinkets, or knick-knacks on their shelves that they set as their background. Unfortunately, too much clutter in the background will cause distractions and will only divert your audience’s focus away from you. Instead, go for minimalist wall art. An accent wall or a blank wall will do but if you’re worried about it being too plain and simple, you can opt to place a plant behind you but make sure that it complements your background.
- Look directly at the camera
Even if your setup looks professional and polished, a huge distraction that speakers oftentimes make is when they gaze away from the camera. Not only does this look “rude” to other viewers, but it is also distracting. So, whenever you’re in a Zoom call, always look at the camera or at least at your device’s screen.
- Invest in good equipment
Using good equipment provides you better image resolution and sound to other viewers. If you are working in a job that requires you to constantly show your face, then it is best to invest in good external cameras and noise-canceling headsets.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, and you may be feeling overwhelmed. But don’t worry! You can take these tips with you to make your next Zoom call as painless as possible. So remember not to multitask (you could miss some important information), use a light source, and lastly, smile before going on camera! This is just one more way we can help our team members to stay productive and hopeful during the pandemic season. Let us know if there are any other tips or suggestions you can share with us to make sure we always look our best in a Zoom call!