Everyone seems to be working from home these days, which means video conference calls have become the new normal in office meetings. For most of us, that means trying to look your best on camera.
If you want to ready for your Zoom close-up, here are some tips that will help.
LIGHTING Natural light is easy and free, but it requires you have your computer set up where the light will fall on your face. Having a desk where you sit facing a window will make lighting your videos simple.
If you have a bright window in the background of your video, you'll need a pretty bright light source in front of you to even out the light. A table lamp or a desk lamp can substitute for natural light, but you'll need to work on placement before your next video conference.
Having the light source straight on (shining into your face) will provide even light. Moving it off to one side or the other at no more than a 45-degree angle will provide depth.
Make sure your background is clear of clutter and there is some light on in the room. Also, try to get your video camera up at eye level. Most of us use laptops on our desks at home, and the built-in cameras point upward.
Get a laptop stand, stack some books or get a box to elevate your camera for a more pleasing angle. You get a video preview in most video conferencing apps, so you can adjust your lighting and background before you start the meeting.
Most of us make do with the microphone built-into our laptops, which doesn't always make for the best audio.
An external microphone placed closer to your mouth will provide better sound.
The best option you might already own is a pair of earbuds with a microphone in the cable. You probably got a pair in the box with your last cellphone.
Apple's white wired earbuds have a nice mike and sound good. Plus, you'll be doing everyone a favor if you wear earbuds or headphones so your computer's mike doesn't pick up the sound coming out of your speakers, which can make the meeting much noisier. Most video conference apps do a good job of filtering out background noise.
Almost any USB microphone you can afford should work on a Mac or Windows PC and provide better sound that the standard laptop mike.
Also, a room with carpet will sound better than a room with a tile or wood floor. Carpets reduce echo.
Always mute your mic before you join a meeting and unmute only when it's your turn to talk.
If your laptop is more than three or four years old, chances are it doesn't have a high-quality selfie camera.
Check out the quality for yourself. If you will be video conferencing a lot, you might want to invest $80 in a better camera like the Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam. But be warned that with many of us working from home, they're getting hard to find.