Avoid Zoom & Gloom

Tips for looking your virtual best at your next Zoom meeting

AVOID ZOOM & GLOOM

Tips for looking your virtual best at your next Zoom meeting

LIGHTS!

Side light from a door or window is best.  Front light can be very flattering, just make sure it’s not too bright. Avoid light coming from behind you.  The light filtering in from the side, ideally at 45 degrees to the window, should provide the right amount. 

Don’t overdo it with overhead lights, natural light–if you can get it–is always best. Definitely avoid dark rooms.  Great light is always my biggest priority.

Choose an area with plenty of natural light

Face the light!

CAMERA!

Elevate that laptop so the camera is face on. You don’t want extra chins or weird angles.  And, don’t forget to look over your shoulder.  Consider removing the dead plant or laundry basket in the background.  Your hair and makeup crew won’t be coming in but that doesn’t mean you should get lazy.  Wrinkle-free clothes and some good old-fashioned hygiene will go a long way. Lastly, practice before your virtual meeting starts, so that you can see how it all looks together.

Place your camera at eye level

Grab a tripod, laptop stand, even a stack of books

ACTION!

The success to a good digital call is to listen, smile and be courteous.  Mute your mic if you’re not talking, no one needs to hear the dogs barking.  Try raising your hand if you have lots of participants to indicate you have a question or a comment.  Stay flexible.  If you find your bandwidth is challenged during the call, take the video capture off and just listen.  Consider taking your call closer to your router to help improve your speed and bandwidth.

Basic etiquette goes a long way

Photography and behind the camera magic is our expertise. 

 We look forward to serving you now and after our moments with Zoom!

original article text below

Best Practices for Virtual ‘Face-to-Face’ Meetings

We have all suddenly been thrust into a world where group meetings are almost out of the question (especially for larger groups).  We are watching in real time as these groups adjust to virtual meetings. And the adjustments can be rough as everyone gets up to speed on the new technologies, their own hardware settings, basic digital courtesies and best practices.  But don’t fret, we will come out on the other side of this. For now, heed these tips for your next virtual meeting!

1. Light your face!  If you have natural light, use it!  Set up in a bright area of your home or office.  Face a window straight on for really flattering light.  Getting too much light (you’ll know because your face will just be a white blurb without any features)?  Move back from the window a bit or close the blinds or a window shear curtain a little. If you do lots of virtual conferencing, you could consider getting a video light like I have shown in the picture.  I bought this for a different purpose, but it works great for virtual meetings for me. And they make smaller, desk sized versions too.

This video light and laptop stand help me put my best face forward when on a video call, but there are plenty of ways to achieve this look without a light and special stand, just sit in front of a window and put your laptop on a stack of books.

My husband likes to work at our coffee table. But a much better choice for a video call would be the light and bright breakfast area in the background.

2. Put your face in the middle of the screen and frame it like a headshot.  The camera in your computer’s webcam or your phone is working in auto mode, so make it easy on that little piece of robotic brain.  Position yourself right in the middle of the screen. The auto functions in your camera will be able to focus better and will expose better (that means you’ll be better lit up).  Finding good light will help here too. Another tip is to avoid an area with bright light behind you such as a window or large open room.

I see this a lot. If my face were in the middle of the screen and I turned my body 180 degrees to face that bright area of my house, I would have much better results!

3. Put the camera at eye level, straight on.  This is my best tip for a flattering image.  I know it is hard to look at yourself on screen when you’re looking up your own nose and at your double chin.  No one looks good from a down angle. Do whatever you need to do to put that camera at eye level, or even a tiny bit above for a really flattering composition:  stack books, buy a laptop stand like the one I have shown above, even a phone stand and mini-tripod (like those I linked below) work perfectly for this application.

Don’t you wish that phone capture was straight? Me too! Bonus tip, straighten up your camera! Nevertheless, stacking anything to get your camera to eye level (and I could still add more books here) is your best bet for a flattering image.

4. Minimize movement and touching your face and hair.  On a virtual call with one or two people, it’s not that critical, but if you’re on a call with 20 other attendees, it is distracting when one person is moving a lot and making large gestures if they are not the current speaker.  I know it’s challenging to look at your own face without continually adjusting your hair, necklace, and facial expression, but unless you are the person speaking, try to sit still.

5. Mute your mic unless you are the speaker.  We’ll see more and more memes about this, but if you have to be on a call with more than 3 people, muting your own microphone is imperative if you’re not the speaker.  The way the speaker system works on platforms like Zoom is that any noise your microphone picks up is broadcast. So if you’re using the computer or phone’s built in microphone it is built to pick up any noise including your washing machine that just started the spin cycle, the weird way you have to keep clearing your throat to avoid a coughing fit, the way you slurp your coffee, the dog’s toenails clicking back and forth across your wood floors, the silverware clanging at the table next to you and your co-worker’s desk phone that keeps ringing off the hook.  Just mute your mic. And if you’re in an active conversation and cannot mute, consider wearing your earbuds with the mouthpiece. That type of microphone is designed differently and picks up much less background noise.

6. Smile!  Whatever you think, it’s hard for everyone to look at themselves on screen, but we are human and we connect with faces–we are hard-wired for it.  So, during these strange and changing times, grin and bear it and know that you are doing the best thing for your business–and maybe even the health of the human race!

Helpful links:

My video light (Flashpoint 19″ ring light from Adorama)–you’ll also need a light stand something like this

Laptop stand

Phone holder with a mini tripod

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