Everybody was supposed to be famous for 15 minutes in the future, but now you’re appearing on video 15 times a day and you want some anonymity. That’s not going to be the case for a while as social distancing continues, so you might as well make the best of your time in front of the camera.
Whether you’re in Zoom meetings with colleagues or having virtual cocktail parties with friends, follow these steps so you can spend more time focusing on others and not anxiously checking how you look in the corner of the screen.
Let There Be Good Light
Finding good light is essential. Shadows falling on your face are only going to highlight signs that you haven’t slept and darkness will obscure your best features. Either face a sunlit window or position a light directly behind your laptop, phone, or tablet. A small selfie light that clips onto devices or a selfie light that holds a phone at the same time can also solve your lighting problems.
Get a Little Height
Whether you’re using a computer or a mobile device, you want its camera to be at eye level. This means you might have to jury rig a setup, like a stack of books on top of a desk or a step stool placed on a table. If you don’t already have one, now might be the time to get an adjustable-height stand that accommodates laptops, phones, and tablets. Or if you’re mostly using your phone for calls and conferences, get a tripod that can be affixed to a variety of surfaces.
In the Background
On a video call you want the focus to be on you, so choose a spot without a cluttered background. Turn on your camera before a call to see what’s being captured and make adjustments to ensure your framing is good.
In Zoom, you can change your background completely. There are lots of backgrounds you can choose from online or you can create your own. On a computer, go to Zoom in a browser. Select Room Management > Zoom Rooms. Select Edit for either the room, floor, or location and then in the Room Settings tab, go to Room Setup. Next to Background image for Zoom Rooms, click Upload New Image and then open the image.
For mobile Zoom, during your video chat, select More and then Virtual Background. Select one of the available backgrounds or tap the plus sign to upload your own.
Your Personal Best
You don’t want to be too self-conscious during your call but in general pulling your face a little bit away from your neck will give your jaw a more taut and flattering appearance. And looking up a bit into the camera is a model trick for making your eyes seem bigger.
Even if you’re not a regular makeup wearer in your outside life (this includes men who don’t even own a skin-care product), consider a skin tint, like one from Glossier or Pixi. Lightly blended on, it will give you a natural-looking glow.
Those who are used to facing the world with a full face of cosmetics but who don’t want to bother with that during *gestures everywhere* all this, welcome to multipurpose balms (Olio e Osso and Pixi make good ones). They make lips and cheeks look like you’ve actually been outdoors.
Some video platforms have the benefit of filters.
In Zoom you can turn on Touch Up My Appearance to get a bit of a soft focus effect. Once you select the option it will remain on for all calls. On a computer, go to Settings > Video > Video Settings. Select Touch Up My Appearance under My Video. On a mobile device app, go to Settings > Meetings > Touch Up My Appearance.
On FaceTime, you can tap the filter icon for different effects during a call.
Show Up Early
In real life showing up early has benefits and so it is with video calls. You’ll get a chance to preview how you look on camera so you can make adjustments before the call starts.
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