How to look awesome on a video call


We’re all spending an increasing amount of time in front of a camera while the world is on lockdown during the coronavirus crisis.

Most of us will be conducting or taking part in meetings on Zoom, GoTo Meeting, FaceTime, MS Teams and other apps like it.

So how do you make sure you look smart and professional on camera as much as you are when meeting people in the flesh?

1. Get your frame right

It's important that to get the position of your camera and your position in relation to it right.

  • When it’s wrong you will know it’s wrong but perhaps not why.
  • When it’s right, you’ll look professional, approachable and friendly.

Anyone who uses a camera professionally knows about the rule of thirds. In fact, artists as far back as the 18th century were using it.

When you watch anyone talking on telly they will always be in a certain position on the screen and that position is determined by the rule of thirds.

The Rule of Thirds divides the screen, four lines dissecting the screen, two horizontally and two vertically to form 9 equal rectangles. The main point of focus (in this case probably your eyes) is always sitting along that top horizontal line, either in the middle or slightly off to one side near the vertical line.

The next time you look at someone talking on TV pay attention to where they are within the frame and you’ll see they are situated with the rule of thirds in mind.

Even all those people being interviewed on TV from their homes right now (usually sitting in front of their impressive book collections) will have been set up by a producer so they’re in the right position on screen before they go on air.

Because we’re subconsciously conditioned to seeing things set up in this way, when they’re not like this it just looks a little odd.

2. Get your angle right

To come across as a friendly, personable person, your angle is important.

Most of us will be making video calls using our tablets, smartphones or laptops and many of us will have them propped up at an angle somehow.

For the viewer, this will look as if you are looking down on them. Even the angles of everything in the background will give this away. Subconsciously this can appear a little intimidating and uncomfortable.

Again, it’s not something you’re likely to see on TV. Plus, they get a good look up your nose and you’re more likely to be showing off a double chin. Not a good look.

So set the height of the camera on your device so its directly in front of you. Think of the camera as the eyes of the person on the other end of the video link. This will make you appear more friendly and approachable.

3. Get your lighting right

Most web-cams are not great at dealing with bright light, so make sure there's none on screen.

If there is a strong light source anywhere on screen it will saturate most of the image. Therefore it pays to think about where the light is coming from.

For instance, if you’re standing in front of a window the light will be behind you and put you in shadow or maybe even silhouette. Even if there is a window elsewhere behind you that can put you in the shade.

Ideally you want the light in front of you illuminating the most important part of the image, you. If that’s not possible aim for the light source off to one side but avoid any light flooding the space behind you.

If you’ve got a window back there somewhere, close the curtains.

4. Get the background right

Whatever there is behind you is a reflection of you.

Ideally, you want your background to be interesting but not distracting. Because you want people to pay attention to you and not what’s behind you. Your viewer WILL be checking out your living room or office no matter what. So make sure there is something to look at but not too much.

And make sure it’s tidy too.

Some video conferencing apps have background options so you can pretend to be in some exotic location. While these are fun they do look a little naff and to be honest we just want to see where you live.

So use this as an opportunity to show off a little of your personality. If you invited all the people on your Zoom call into your house, you’d make sure it looks fab. This is really no different with a video call. The good thing here is that people can only see what they can see. If there’s junk out of shot they won’t be able to see it. So you don’t have to tidy your whole house, just the bit that they will see.

The ideal opportunity

All these little tips are no different whether you’re on a video call like Zoom or if you’re recording a video for social media and if you’re not marketing your business on social media or using video to do it you really are missing out.

So why not use this lockdown situation as the perfect time to practice your camera skills and think about how you can use them moving forward to showcase what you do and generate new business.

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a better presenter on screen and how video can boost your business presence on social media, click below and take a look at our course.