In our new all remote working world, you are going to be using that camera on your computer to do zoom calls, Skype interviews, Google Meets or Hangouts, and even just talking with your friends.
As a guy who produces videos on YouTube and is part of lots of online groups, let me give you a few tips to stand out on any conference call you may be part of.
I spent a number of years as a semi-pro photographer who specialized in studio lighting, so I know a thing or two about how to light a person to make them look good. Then I started doing these DFL videos and ended up setting up a studio in my house to record.
When I suddenly found myself on video calls every day, I was the guy who stood out. I just set up a webcam in my home studio and use it for all these calls. It is a little like being the guy in a suit at a meeting where everyone else is in cargo shorts and flip-flops. You stand out in a good way.
This video isn’t going to show you how to set up a home studio just for the purpose of being on conference calls. If you want to know all the gear in my studio, there is a link in the description.
But first let me answer a question that may be on your mind. “Does it really matter what I look like on a call?”
It goes to the larger question of does it matter what I look like? How I dress or present myself? This is actually a deep philosophical question which I might do an other video on.
My short answer is it does. Especially for entrepreneurs and business people. People treat you differently based on how you present yourself. If you dress like an important person, then people naturally think you are important.
If you get on a conference call with good lighting, good audio and a flattering camera angle, people think you know what you are doing. It is what motivated, competent people do.
One thing I can tell you as a video creator, people don’t want to look at crappy visuals. Or deal with crappy sound. They want to see your eyes and hear your voice when you are talking.
So here are the tips for upgrading your game.
Make sure your face is well lit.
People do not want to look at the window behind you. They don’t want to see your silhouette. They want to see you. Make sure the brightest light is in front of you.
Being in front of a window is the easiest way to do this. The light should be coming straight at your face, and evenly light your face.
If you don’t have a handy window, you can use something like a desk or table lamp. Just put it in front of you behind your camera.
Now that we can see your face, what next?
Get your camera at eye level.
People want to look you in the eye. So get your camera at eye level. This is easiest with an off computer webcam. They aren’t very expensive these days and you can mount them up high easily.
Now a lot of you are using laptops for these calls. And since you are at home, you may be sitting on the couch and letting the laptop live up to its name.
Which means you are looking down at the camera. Way down at the camera. Which gives you a double chin. No one looks good with a double chin.
It probably puts your head in shadow. It also may put ceiling lights behind you. Or you end up at the bottom of the screen and look like that comic character who is only half on screen.
To fix this, put your laptop on a table and not your lap. You can also angle your laptop so that the camera is even higher. While you can buy a fancy laptop stands to help with this, you can also just prop it up with books.
Now that you are looking good, you need to sound good
Make yourself sound good.
Everyone who’s ever been on a conference call with people at home quickly learns that you need to be in a quiet place. And to mute your mic when you aren’t speaking.
Going to the next level means having a better microphone. Which is surprisingly easy.
You can of course get some fancy microphones. But an easy, and often overlooked way to improve your audio, is to use headphones with a mic. Apple AirPods are my go-to in these situations, but you can just use regular Apple-style headphones that have a mic on the wire.
You can also use a gamer headset if you have one and if it will connect to your computer.
Think about your background.
Did I mention people are going to be looking at you when they are bored? See when you are on a conference call, your video is up all the time. So when people get bored they are going to start looking at your background.
There are two methods to deal with your background. Eliminate distractions or make those distractions interesting.
You can eliminate distractions by finding a blank wall behind you. You can also you the “green screen” settings on some programs to replace your background with something else entirely. Just try to not be too cutesy.
The other idea is to actually stage your background and express yourself with what is back there. What nicknacks are on the shelf? What books are visible.
Just think about what is back there and maybe make it a little cool.
Don’t fill the screen with your face.
I watched a funny video the other day of a woman going through the horrors of video conferencing.
“Can’t look down, it gives me a double chin.”
“Oh, my room is messy.” Zoom in.
“Oh I didn’t get dressed today and there is baby drool on my shirt.”
Then she filled the screen with her face and said, “There.”
Of course, I don’t know about you, but when people get bored and want to closely examine what is on my screen, I don’t want them looking at my pores or any leftover mustard at the corner of my mouth from lunch.
So don’t fill the screen with your face. Unless you want people to look up your nose.
Implement these tips and you will be head and shoulders above your competitors and co-workers.
Question of the Day: How do you look good on webcam?