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How to Look Good in Zoom​ (and other Webcam Apps)

zoom, video conference, online teaching

Before COVID-19, I hadn’t spent much time in webcam chats. Now it seems, I live there.

In the past week I’ve done business meetings in Zoom, catch-ups in Hangouts, and a trivia night with my family on HouseParty. But most of that time I spent staring at myself, in that little face-cam screen in the corner, trying to present my best side.

All in Vain

I tried lying on the bed holding the camera over my head, sitting in the semi-dark like a silhouette, and just giving up and pointing the camera at the ceiling fan. But nothing worked.

So here, to make our new world a more beautiful place, are some simple tips for looking your best on webcam:

Some Light Flattering

Short of cosmetic surgery, your best bet is flattering lighting.

What you want is Soft lighting from the front. Front lighting helps the webcam to auto-focus on your face, and soft light helps you not look like Count Dracula blasted by the midday sun. 

  • Diffused light from several sources helps light your whole face:
  • If you only have one lamp, don’t direct it up or down, but directly towards your face
  • Remember your computer screen is also a light source… Open a white screen while chatting.

Camera Angles

Where's your head at?

Present your best side:

  • Look at your camera’s lens
  • Position people’s face-screens close to your camera’s lens so it appears you’re looking at them
  • Best camera angle is on your eyeline or slightly above.

Hi-Tech Hacks

Some video-chat apps – like Facetime, Snapchat and Zoom – have built -in beauty options like filters and effects to enhance your online appearance:

There's many lighting products to help you look your best in webchats.

There’s also plenty of fancy lighting products available to shine a flattering light on your face for webchat:

But you can also create a soft, flattering light-source using things lying around the house. 

You can create your own soft front-lighting for free.

Don't Let Your Background Define You

The secret to a good background is find the most boring wall in your house, preferably flat and grey, without much light on it. And look behind your head on screen to make sure nothing is growing out of your head. 

What’s growing out of your head? 

Your background should be:

  • Darker than you. If your background is brighter than you, the webcam may auto-focus there and lose focus on you
  • Different colour to you. Avoid wearing the same colours as your background.
  • Less interesting than you. It’s embarrassing to have chat particpants ask you to move out of the way so they can see your family eating.

Hi-Tech Hacks

Some webchat apps have options that allow you to include a virtual background from their gallery or from your photos:

Sound Advice

Love your headphones with a built-in mic.

  • Use headphones with built-in microphone rather than the mic on your webcam or computer
  • Turn off the TV and radio and any loud siblings.
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