Video calls and remote work go hand-in-hand, and while remote work is more casual-friendly you definitely want to keep up appearances and remain professional.
Remote work has long been based around online connections of which none are as important as video calling. In March of this year, Zoom usage spiked to 200 million daily meeting participants following worldwide stay-at-home orders for all industries. Many of us spend our days on Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or other video calling services, but for some, this is their first time spending this much time working in video meetings.
And let's be real - we all pay attention to how we look in that little screen once the call has started!
Google Trends has recently reported an uptick in the number of people searching for how to look good on Zoom. We hear you! Those webcams aren't always the kindest, especially if you don't have a dedicated office space.
These are our best tips for how to look good on Zoom and other video calls:
1. Start with the basics
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at what can happen when last-minute video calls come up. Preparation is more important than you think, and it's better to stay ready than get ready. To start, you should ensure that you have combed your hair, are wearing a shirt that will look decent on call and have cleared your background of clutter. Make-up is not a requirement and doesn't necessarily have to be worn - this is entirely up to you. However, we do suggest some powder for shine if you are facing the light directly.
2. Lighting is important
All too often you'll join a web call and see people with their main source of light right behind them. This casts a shadow on your face and makes it hard to read your expressions. Where possible, it's better to make sure you have some light directed at your face, like facing a window. If you don't have a natural light source, you can make use of your screen and set up the brightness. Just be aware that if you wear glasses you may see some reflection - don't open any tabs you aren't willing to show your whole team!
3. Keep the camera at eye-level
Have you ever been on a video call and seen only the eyes and foreheads of your coworkers peeking the little video border? Many people angle their camera either too high or too low and cut off parts of their face, which looks a little funny to the rest of the people on the call. These people have even been satirized by others on the internet! At the bare minimum, try to keep the camera eye-level and make sure your whole face is visible.
4. Buy a dedicated webcam
Not all webcams are alike - in fact, some are absolute junk. You can prepare your appearance as much as you like, but if your webcam has the quality of a waxy potato then all of that effort is for nothing. This is true of many cams built into laptops too. If you video call often as part of your job, purchasing a good quality webcam can make a big difference. Take a look at Tom's Guide for the best quality webcams in 2020.
5. Use Zoom effectively
Video calling services like Zoom and Skype have seen the need for additional video calling options like background blurring and touching up appearances, and launched useful solutions you should know about and use. Check out some of the new virtual backgrounds available on Zoom.
6. Dealing with surprise video call guests
Cat jump on your lap while you're planning your next sprint? Kid burst in the door for a quick hug or funny story about a bug outside while you have your daily standup? These moments can seem embarrassing, but part of remote work is accepting that everyone is actually in their home environment. The key is to know when enough is enough and when interruptions cannot be allowed. These interruptions will be more welcome with your team than they will with clients. Sometimes, however, they are inevitable. Acknowledge it, crack a quick joke, and get back on topic.
With this information in hand, you should be more than ready to go into video call confident in your appearance and professionalism. It may not be possible to follow all of these tips, but at least one or two will go a long way in helping you look better on Zoom and other video calls.