Who else watched the Jetsons as a kid and remembers thinking that video calls were too “futuristic” to ever be a reality? It seems a bit silly now looking back, because the future is very much here! While video conferencing platforms like Skype and FaceTime have been growing in popularity over the past decade, the pandemic has made video calls a fixture of day-to-day life for many of us!
While video calls offer a convenient and low-risk way to interact with coworkers, family, and friends, they aren’t always the most… aesthetically pleasing experience. Personally, I’ve seen more than enough video call interviews on the news recently where I’ve been forced to look up someone’s nose!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unflattering video call conditions. From garish lighting to the dreaded double chin, these unflattering conditions can be a distraction to others on the call, and not to mention embarrassing for the person involved!
But luckily for us, avoiding an unflattering video call faux pas is actually pretty easy! Today I’ll be sharing some quick tips and tricks that can help you look your best on video calls. With the help of these simple guidelines, on your next video call you’ll be looking just as glamorous as Judy Jetson herself! ;-)
5 Easy Ways Look Your Best On Video Calls
1. Find The Right Light
The best lighting for a video call is front-facing (hits you straight on) and natural (from the sun or a window). Front-facing, natural light illuminates your features evenly and brightens your face. Think of it as movie star lighting!
If you can’t move your setup to a sunlit window, just position a light source directly behind your laptop, phone, or tablet. You can even get a small selfie light that will clip onto your devices to solve your lighting problems.
2. Elevate Your Camera
In addition to lighting, the position or angle of your camera can have a big impact too. Ideally, the camera on your phone or computer should be positioned at eye level. Otherwise, you may end up with an unflattering double-chin effect or with the camera pointed right up your nose!
If you need to add a little height to your device to get a better angle, try setting it on top of a stack of books, a box, or even a step stool.
3. Consider Your Background
Another thing that people tend to forget while doing a video call is that everyone on the call can see what’s behind you. So unless you want to give your friends or coworkers an unfettered glimpse into your messy home, make sure you consider what’s behind you before jumping on a call!
Turn on your camera on before a call to see what’s visible behind you and make adjustments as needed. I often do video calls in my home office, so my backdrop is usually some of my DIY art and a few (usually organized) clothes racks.
Seeing other people’s uniquely personal backdrops is one of the things I like best about video calls. You get to see others in their “natural habitat” and they get to see you in yours, and it creates a sense of closeness that can help bridge the physical distance. :-)
4. Get Ready For Your Close-Up
If you really want to go the extra mile to look your best, there are simple things you can do with your hair, makeup, and outfit to achieve a camera-ready look. (I used to be a TV news reporter after all, and we reporters know every trick in the book for looking good on camera!) ;-)
Pull Your Hair Back
You don’t want to wear your hair in a way that hides the main attraction: your pretty face! So choose a style that will keep the hair out of your face and avoid casting shadows.
Keeping your hair out of your face will also help you avoid fidgeting or playing with your hair, which can be distracting to others on a call.
Avoid Busy Patterns
While prints like herringbone, houndstooth, animal print, and plaid can be fabulous and fun to wear, they’re not great choices to wear on camera. Busy prints and patterns can distort light and cause a strobe-like effect (known as a moiré pattern) on camera.
To be safe, pick a simpler pattern or a solid color to wear to avoid any unintended effects. (And remember, if your camera only shows you from the waist up, pants are always optional!) ;-)
Keep Jewelry Simple
Bold and shiny jewelry often winds up reflecting light back into the camera, and others on the call won’t appreciate being blinded! Bangles, layered chains, and other jewelry that may audibly clink or rattle when you move can also be a potential source of distraction.
If you want to wear a necklace or earrings on your call, choose something small and simple. It’s one more way to ensure that what you’re saying on a video call isn’t being eclipsed by what you’re wearing!
Avoid Heavy Eye Makeup
While you might spend some extra time and effort on your eye makeup before an in-person meeting, you’re better off keeping it simple for a video call. Wearing heavy or dramatic eye makeup on a video call usually does one of two things: it either doesn’t show up well, or it makes the wearer’s eyes look heavy and dark.
If you really feel naked without something on your eyes, keep it simple and focus on mascara. Or save yourself some time and skip the eye portion of your makeup routine altogether! :-)
5. Use Built-In Effects
If you’re using Zoom for your video calls, try out the app’s built-in effects like the Touch Up My Appearance feature! This free feature adds an adjustable filter to your camera that can brighten and soften the look of your skin and help you look more polished look on screen.
To enable the feature on the Zoom mobile app, go to Settings > Meetings > Touch Up My Appearance. To enable the feature on your computer, go to Settings > Video > Video Settings, then under My Video, select Touch Up My Appearance.
Other video conferencing platforms (like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeetings, etc.) may offer similar features or effects. Dive into the settings of your preferred platform and see what you can find!
Do you have any tips or tricks for having a successful video call?