Video conferencing 101: How to look your best on video calls

May 4, 2020
Alyssa Blanchard
Content Producer
Alyssa Blanchard
Content Producer

A work from home lifestyle is nothing new, however, in this new time where we find ourselves all working remotely, the trusty conference call has quickly been replaced with—the sometimes anxiety-inducing—video call. 

Which begs the question, how do we bring our “A Game” to every video conference call?

We’ve crafted five helpful and easy tips below to make sure that you’re camera-ready. Whether it’s for your weekly staff call or a new client pitch, you’ll be prepared to present confidently, putting your best face forward.

Frame yourself

All virtual call video windows are about the same size, so once you’ve made a couple of video calls (and who hasn’t at this point?) you know the approximate area you’re working with. 

First, pay attention to the distance you have between yourself and your screen. Avoid sharing an extreme close-up with your face taking up too much space or sitting too far back, making yourself appear teeny-tiny and hard to interact with. 

Also, pay attention to the angle of your screen. You’ll get a more appealing view if your screen’s camera is elevated above the height of your eyes and tilted downward. Assuming you don’t have a fancy desk with adjustable heights at home, a stack of books under your laptop will do the trick. 

Check your lighting

While your home office may be in the brightest room in your house, if the primary source of light is behind you, the resulting backlighting will make your face appear dark, and it will be hard for others to see you when you join a virtual meeting. 

We’re here for you. We don’t want you to creep out your fellow meeting mates by appearing like someone hiding their identity in a Dateline episode.

The best—and easiest—solution is to set up your computer or device so that you are facing the light, within 3 to 4 feet of a sunny window. Moving your desk or workstation may not be an option, but setting up a temporary table and seat in front of a window might be manageable during the times you’re on an important video call. 

Using artificial light, such as a bright lamp, positioned about 2 feet in front of you is also a great option which, if bright enough, can counteract the effects of natural backlighting. They also come in handy on a cloudy, rainy day. 

If you find that your desk lamp is giving you harsh shadows, and if your desk is facing a wall, try turning the lamp toward the wall or ceiling. Reflecting the light off of a bright surface can illuminate you in a much more even and flattering way than pointing it directly toward you. Plus you eliminate having the bright lightbulb in your periphery, reducing eye strain.

Run a sound check

Ever hear the sound of a hot microphone on stage? It can screech, squeal, echo or create super jarring reverberation. The same thing can happen in a virtual meeting. Usually, this occurs if you have your computer audio on and you’re also dialing in to the call from your phone. 

Skip the hot mic-sounding panic and decide how you want to connect to your audio before you dial in, either by phone or by computer, so you don’t end up blowing out everyone’s ear drums upon meeting entry.

Choose your backdrop

On pretty much every video conference platform, you can customize your own personal background with graphic wallpaper or a photo of your favorite vacation spot. Some innovative brands are even offering virtual meeting backgrounds you can download. Proudly share your affinity for the Happiest Place on Earth or show off your love for interior design with a roomscape from Behr.

On some platforms, video files can also be used as a virtual backdrop—but these have the tendency to be a distraction and get old fast, unless the motion is subtle and slow. Experiment at your own risk. 

If virtual backgrounds aren’t your thing, look for a well lit area of your home or personal office to set up shop. In this WFH age, show off your personality with your surroundings. Include pictures of your family or pets, a shelf full of your favorite books and maybe that plant you rescued from your office desk and brought home. 

Over the past several weeks, we’ve learned all kinds of new and interesting things about our team members. Who knew we had so many musicians, cyclists and hobby photographers on staff?

Also, don’t hesitate to grab your pets or kids for a (quick!) virtual cameo during routine meetings. Let’s be honest, pets and kids brighten anyone's day and no one is going to object to a screen bomb by your cat, Mr. Scruffles.

Use mute freely

If you’ve got kids at home, and they are having a moment, don’t be afraid to mute your audio, temporarily turn off your video, or both. As we adjust to this new normal of video-everything, your team members and clients will understand if it’s mid-morning meltdown time. 

Take advantage of that handy mute feature and do what you need to do. Eat a box of cookies at 11 a.m. if the urge strikes and you’re a loud cruncher. Go on, it’s fine. We don’t judge and we bet your coworkers don’t either.

Just don’t forget to unmute yourself when you’ve got something to say to the group. “Your mute’s on again, Tom. We can’t hear you!”

Anyone up for revising the classic game of Workday Buzzword Bingo for the video call age?

Subscribe for the latest

More stories

all stories