Yes, It’s really only what’s above the desk that counts!
I’ve been on enough video calls these past few months to know that everyone, including me, could use a little help looking their best. From work meetings, to a 1:1 with your boss, to a client’s presentation to a virtual pub quiz, we all suddenly have to be under the spotlights in our homes. As a RingCentral Marketing Team member, I’m no stranger to having to be camera-ready at all times and especially in imperfect spaces.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on improving my own video chat setup: From knowing how to sit properly to get the best light, to choosing the right headphones, to wearing the perfect blush. Here are my best tips and tricks to becoming the video call star you were always meant to be.
Light the way
Start with lighting because that will dictate where you’re sitting. Place your primary light source behind your camera. Adjust your screen brightness, especially if you’re taking a call without natural light. A bright screen can blow out the highlights on your face, making you look more like Casper the Ghost than a video calling champion. Avoid overhead lights, too, as they can create dark under-eye shadows.
As for the angle, the camera should be placed at your eye level. If you’re using a laptop, place something beneath it to raise it until your eyes are at the same level as the camera lens.
Choose a neutral background
Make sure your background is uncluttered and professional. Less is more. Sit at your desk and take a selfie or a screenshot of what others see in your background. Consider designating one wall as your ‘company’ wall.
Don’t “dress to impress”
When it comes to clothing, avoid patterns, stripes and plaids. Choose solid, bold colours. Check your appearance one last time before signing on. Keep a brush or comb and a small mirror in your desk drawer for quick touch ups during interview breaks.
Maintain eye contact
You’re sure to look like a beginner if you don’t look directly into the camera or at least at the face of the person. Avoid the temptation of staring at your own image throughout the video call.
Elevate your camera
There is one, and only one, acceptable camera angle: head-on and at eye level. Your table is almost certainly going to be lower than your face, and that means people are going to get an unflattering look up at you. Use a set of books, a stool, shoe boxes, or a higher table to make sure your camera is at the same level as your eyes. You don’t want people to feel like they are looking up or down at you.
Always test your video before a call
You want to show up to your meeting already looking good so that you’re not adjusting your surroundings, screen brightness, angle, or hair live for everyone to see. Start a video call, clicking on the video option and this will show you a preview of your video before the call starts.
Find a quiet place
Most of us don’t have a great deal of control over audio, but you’ll sound better if you take a call in a quiet place. Also keep in mind that your headphones might have a better mic than your computer.
As a courtesy to others, even if you think you’re being extremely quiet while someone else is speaking, always mute your microphone when you’re not speaking.
Protect sensitive information
If you’re sharing your screen while presenting to the other meeting attendees, make sure that only intended content is seen. Launching a fresh browser window and preparing ahead of time will help keep sensitive or potentially embarrassing information confidential.
Rapid increases in demand for video conferencing services have revealed the unfortunate fact that some services aren’t as secure as assumed or required. Make sure your service is on top of this through the use of user verification procedures, meeting passwords and private recordings.
Finally, if you’re a pro at video conferencing, remember to be patient with anyone who might not be such an expert with the tool. Allow some grace for any miscommunications that occur.
And always remember: “Go Bright With Blush”.
Originally published May 14, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023