In the “new” normal, conferences and classes have found their new—and hopefully temporary—homes in video conference apps. Whether you conduct these meetings every day or not, the details of how you conduct your calls affect how you register on video during these calls.
The height of your study table affects your posture and the angle of the camera to your face. The lighting improves video quality. Wearing formal clothes during a professional meeting or class conditions you to get out of your bed head. Sprucing up your background with imported décor pieces also enhances the “production quality” of your video.
Since these calls are now part of life, putting in the effort will translate well to how people in the meeting perceive you. Some of these people may not ever meet you in real life, and seeing you on video may be the only impression they will have of you.
Start with a Study Table
The study table matters because it determines the height of your camera. Most probably, if you sit with your back straight, you will have to look down a little. The camera being at a lower angle may not be a flattering angle. Plus, you could strain the back of your neck and compromise your posture, especially if the meeting goes on for hours.
The solution to this problem is a laptop stand. It angles the laptop so that the screen is elevated, but the keyboard is still usable—although the angled keyboard could harm your wrist in the long run. The elevation also allows enough ventilation at the bottom of the laptop, so it can regulate the system’s temperature. If you don’t have a laptop stand, stack some books and place your laptop on top.
Lighting is the Secret to Success
Just like chasing the right lighting for Instagram pictures or in film, lighting should not be an afterthought during the meeting. Most webcams are not built to take high-quality videos. If you’re in a poorly lit environment, your video will not register well. It could be grainy, and your face won’t be seen. You need to be visible in your meeting, so it wouldn’t be as if you’re in a cave or sneaking out at night.
You can use a ring light to evenly distribute the lighting to your profile. An alternative would be the study lamp you already have on your table. It also helps to set your laptop screen’s brightness to the highest setting.
Your Shirt Matters
Wearing a presentable shirt is not only about looking good, but it also sets you in the mood for work or school. Today’s setting of distance learning and work from home has already blurred the lines between work and one’s personal life. As much as possible, do anything that you can to make a distinction between the two.
One way to do this is to avoid wearing your home clothes or sleeping clothes for a video conference. By looking at the part, your brain will help you get into business mode. A basic top would be anything with a collar or level it up with a blazer. Don’t forget to fix your hair, too. An instant remedy to bed hair is to tie it in a ponytail.
Video conference apps offer features that hide your background. Zoom allows you to choose a virtual background while Microsoft Teams has a feature that blurs your background. It’s fun and can also be a measure of privacy.
These features are not foolproof, though. Sometimes, they mistake your face, teeth, or shirt as the background. When this happens to you, consider fixing your background in real life. You can add décor, a tapestry, or plants so to make it look pretty and presentable. Be sure to hide things you don’t want other people to see because some people may take notice, especially when they’re bored during the call.
If you have a peaceful environment at home, you can find a spot outside of your home office. You could have your garden as the background. Maybe you have a photo wall or an art piece that you want to feature. This will save you the effort of decorating a space, but make sure that your new spot is free of distractions.
The rules on perception and looking presentable can still apply even in virtual meetings. Forget about what the other people in the chat don’t know about what’s going on around you during the call. You might have ten dogs sleeping on the floor, or there’s an angel that passed by the window. What matters is what they see and what you allow them to see.