Webcams! With Corona Virus they’re suddenly not just for gamers in their parents’ basements anymore! The rest of us used to use them on occasion, but with work-from-home orders, we are now completely beholden to them, and how you set yourself up can make or break your appearance to your coworkers. Here’s how to look great in your Zoom meeting.
One global tip here: Make sure you set all these things up ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to change them in the middle of your meeting; that can look worse than not doing them at all.
You want to be looking straight into the camera, so make sure that green light is at eye level. In normal life, you would look straight at the person you’re talking to, but nothing about talking into a computer during a global pandemic is normal. You can glance down to see the person’s reaction, but concentrate the majority of your eye contact on the green light. The reason behind this is when you look up, the angle makes you look like a child and when you look down, the angle makes you look like a tyrant. No one wants either of these in a business meeting.
In Zoom, click on settings, then video, then under “My Video,“ click on “Touch up my appearance.” This will digitally smooth out your skin. No shame in that.
Don’t get too close. Webcam lenses—especially on mobile devices—are very wide and will make your nose look huge if you get too close. Stay at least two feet away from any web cam for better results.
Try to keep your background simple and only show people what you want them to see. They should be focusing on your message, not the last episode of Tiger King you forgot to turn off in the background.
Move the Zoom screen as close to your webcam as possible. This will minimize eye/head movement. This is particularly useful if you have multiple monitors.
Light your face with a window. Putting a window in front of you helps to fill in shadows and facial lines that might otherwise appear harsh with overhead lighting. For an even better look, put a semi-sheer curtain on the window to diffuse the light. This will make for a softer source, and a softer source means softer shadows, and softer shadows mean fewer wrinkles. If you have blinds, open or close them until you get the perfect amount of light. Just make sure you’re not getting too much light from the window. You’ll know it when you see it, and you can just back away, put a thicker curtain on, or close the blinds down. Whatever you do, try to avoid being lit from behind by a window. A web cam’s sensor isn’t like our expensive video production cameras, so its tiny sensor will blow the window out behind you and make a nasty image. Keep your lighting as even as possible for best results.
Where you actually work doesn’t have to be where you shoot. If your home office is in a dark corner that didn’t get used until the stay-home orders were in effect, that’s okay. Any mobile device can join a Zoom meeting or if you have a laptop you can just temporarily relocate to a spot with better light. It can be useful to put your phone’s camera on selfie mode and walk around the house to find the best spot before you start rearranging your office.
If you can’t move your office and your lighting is less than ideal, use a blank word doc for a light. Make it full screen and turn up the brightness on your monitor. You’ll be surprised how big a difference this can make.
Using an external webcam is going to look better than your computer’s onboard web cam. We have no idea how long COVID-19 is going to keep us at home so it might be worth investing in a USB web cam; they are relatively cheap and help you put your best foot forward.
Stay inside, but put the dogs and/or kids in another room. We know not everyone has the luxury, but if you do, try to minimize interruption. It might sound like a great idea to go outside when the kids are wrestling in the other room, but you can never predict when the neighbor’s landscapers will show up and you’ll have to scramble to move locations.
If you would like CSK Creative to consult in setting up your personal webcam, or if you would like us to produce a multi-camera webcast for an event that was cancelled, please don’t hesitate to contact us.