Six tips for looking great in a virtual meeting

We all want the same things in business and life.

Amongst the list we want to be healthy, look great, be safe, happy and successful.

In our new normal of the COVID-19 era, many of us have turned to the webcam and video meetings in place of school, work conferences, and many of us are spending our days on video conferences hosted by Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, WebEx and the like.

And many of you are probably looking into the picture window at yourself and saying, "Really? How can I improve my virtual appearance?”

It doesn't have to be that way, here are six tips that we trust you will find useful.

Appearance

Start with the basics. Comb your hair, apply your makeup and think strategically about your clothing. Wearing a really busy plaid or patterned outfit will make the viewers' eyes go numb. A plain, solid colour will help bring out the best you.

Lighting

Here's where most people fail in web conferences. When half of their face is shaded or blocked in some way. Have one steady lamp, directly by your face, for even, steady lighting. No sidelight or backlight is necessary and avoid sitting with your back to the window, as the camera will expose for the light and make you into a silhouette. Instead, flip it, and face the window, which will give you soft, people-pleasing light.

Background

You want people focusing on your face, not on what's behind you. Many people like to be photographed in front of a bookshelf, with blank walls, or a wall with nothing but one piece of art hanging. Alternatively a pop up banner is great should you wish to be β€œon brand.”

Perspective

The cameras on smartphones and webcams are wide-angle. So if you get too close to it, you will look distorted. In other words, step back from the camera. The closer you are to a wide-angle, the more distorted you are.

Eye Level

Don't have the webcam looking up at you, the camera under the face is the oldest unflattering look in the books. It's what director James Whale did in the original 1931 "Frankenstein" movie to make the monster look more menacing. Eye to eye contact is the best connection. Look at that camera directly, straight ahead. How to do that when the webcam is physically below your eye? Stack a bunch of books under your laptop until you see the webcam eye to eye.

Sound

While we just told you to step away and not be so close, don't be so far away that the microphone won't hear you. Remember to put the kids and other sound distractions in another room during your meeting, if you can. And, this is a huge one: Don't forget to mute the microphone when listening. Otherwise, everybody gets to hear you typing away.