It goes without saying that the recent events have changed a lot of the ways we communicate with each other-personally and professionally. We’re all on more web conferences and video meetings via Skype, Zoom, Google Meet and WebEx than ever before. So we have 10 tips to help you look your best on a webcam (and not look so much like a bum in the basement).
It’s important to keep good eye contact with the camera. It takes a little getting used to, but make sure to keep looking at your camera and not yourself on the monitor or something else off screen. Try your hardest to not communicate with someone off screen, either.
Keep the webcam at the same level of your eyes. Don’t be afraid to stack your computer on something, such as books, to get your device higher.
Keep the background free from as many distractions as much possible, and keep it simple. You don’t want something in the background distracting you or your viewers from your conversation. (That includes tvs, radios, people and pets.) Turn off all TVs and radios within ear shot. It is also best to put your pets in another room and let everyone else in your household know that you will be on the webcam prior to getting started. This will limit any possible interruptions. Keep in mind that everyone will be looking at what’s behind you, too; put away anything you don’t want to be seen — laundry, dishes, etc.
Keep the lighting even and plentiful. When you can, try to set up your office space opposite to a light source such as a window or lamp, with you facing the light source and the back of the camera towards the light. Never aim your webcam directly at the window or light source—it will turn you into a silhouette. Also try to keep a well lit background. Nobody wants to see a floating head in a dark room.
Special tip: Monitor light from your computer is very blue and can put a blue tint to your face and skin tone. Try changing the color temperature on your monitor to a warmer temp in your computer’s settings.
Wear professional clothes. Yes, that means pants too! Do your hair and makeup like you normally would for a day at work in the office. When working from home, it’s easy to keep your sweatpants on all day—but if you want to be taken seriously, you need to dress the part.
“And no hats! Unless you are talking about NASCAR, hunting or some other sport—keep the hat in the closet.”
Distance From Camera
You will want to keep a good distance from your webcam (somewhere around 2 ft looks best on most webcams). Too close, and your face will look huge and be distorted (generally causing “bignose”). Too far away from the camera and you will appear tiny and will be difficult for your viewers to see and to hear.
Put the Chips Away
The average video chat or meeting only lasts from 30 mins to one hour. Refrain from snacking or sipping from your water bottle. Not only is it distracting visually, but the microphone will pick up the crackling and chewing–especially when you are wearing earbuds.
Try not to talk with your hands or bang on the table. Busy, fast moving arms can be very distracting on a webcam and banging the table can shake the camera and make the viewer feel like they are in an earthquake.
Do Not Leave the Room
Unless it is an emergency, walking away from the camera during the meeting can make the viewer feel disrespected. While you’re on a video chat, use social manners as if you were in the room with them. Take your turn speaking and listen intently.
Account for the Lag
Remember that you are operating over an internet connection and there will be a lag time from when you speak to when the viewer hears you. Make sure to speak slowly and clearly. Giving enough pauses to allow people a chance to respond when you want them to.
The thought of seeing ourselves on camera can be very nerve racking for many of us, and many of us are not used to being seen on camera. Hopefully, these 10 tips will help calm some of your nerves and help you look your best on a webcam.
Written by Jesse Brown Nelson