At the moment, video calls seem just about the only thing that can be relied on. Marking time by means of an endless succession of face-to-face chats with family, friends and colleagues, we can end up feeling somewhat seasick. And the almost irresistible draw of one’s own face in that little box in the corner can lead to uncomfortable feelings of vanity or inadequacy. Here are some tips for making yourself look as good as possible on the low-grade webcam you stare into for hours on end. It will quiet your mind and help you to come across as professional and healthy just when it’s important to retain as much normality as possible.
Adjust your camera
It sounds obvious, but the angle of your camera can make a huge difference to how your face looks. The more elevated the camera, the less likely you are to end up showing off your triple chin or the contents of your nose. Raise the camera on a box or a few books so that you’re looking straight ahead into it. You’ll automatically appear more relaxed and professional.
Make sure you’re in the right light
Lighting is equally important when trying to make a good impression on camera. Sit directly in front of a natural light source – a window is ideal. It will reduce the shadows on your face and make you look young and awake. But make sure the light isn’t too bright, as over-exposure can blur out the details of your face. If your face is still too bright, adjust the exposure on your webcam settings.
Make sure your background is tidy and neutral
What’s in the background can make a big impression on the people you’re calling. If it’s a work call, you’ll want to keep it as plain as possible. While it seems that celebrities favour a wall of books as a backdrop, this might not be feasible for everyone. Be aware, though, that the colour of a wall or background can change the colour grade of your face. A bright yellow wall will turn you blue. The ideal background is a plain wall in a neutral tone. Again, though, avoid bright whites as they will darken your face by contrast.
Make sure you’re somewhere quiet
For many of us, quarantine means staying in with a number of family members, housemates or pets. We can never fully predict others’ actions, so a certain amount of interruption might be inevitable. But while your boss will forgive the occasional cat wandering across the table, constant noises or distractions can detract from the quality of a call and break everyone’s concentration. Try and avoid having multiple conversations at once over text while you’re in a meeting. Even though it’s tempting to make the most of the limited view of the camera, you’ll come across as distracted.
Dress for the job
With memes about the lockdown uniform of pyjamas flying around like nobody’s business, it feels both easier and more on-trend to succumb to loungewear every day. But for a business meeting, it’s helpful to dress up slightly. Research suggests that the clothes one wears can have an effect on one’s performance and productivity. Plus, it’s more professional to wear on camera the clothes you would wear in person.
With these tips, you’ll boss any work meeting. Go forth and Zoom.