How to Look Professional on Video Conference Calls
Like it or not, video conference calls are here to stay. Everything from interviewing to meeting is often done virtually now. Virtual or in person, first impressions still count. Don’t let your first impression be that it’s your first time on a video conference call.
Here are some of our favorite tips for looking professional on a video conference call.
1. Lighting is Key
Quality lighting can make or break your video feed. Too little light? You look like you’re taking the call from a dungeon. Too much light? You look pale and in need of a transfusion. Bottom line? Use natural lighting when you can. If natural lighting isn’t feasible, make sure you’re facing the light source as much as possible. Illuminating one side of your face leaves the other side in the dark. Don’t forget to consider lighting height. If the light is too high, it may reflect off your forehead and shadow the rest of your face.
2. Use Headphones or Earbuds
Sure, most computers have a built-in microphone. However, it’s probably not as good or clear as your headphones or earbuds. Even computers with quality microphones can pick up static or cause echoing when you or others speak.
3. Look the Part
A good quality video feed alone can’t create a solid first impression. Remember to dress for the occasion. Yes, it’s a running joke now, but it is important to at least dress what the camera sees: your upper body. Are we suggesting it’s okay to keep your sweatpants and slippers on for the meeting? Not necessarily but keep your attire professional from the waist up. Select solid and calm colors. Loud prints and colors can be distracting to your audience.
4. Curate your Background (or Get Rid of it Entirely)
The focus should be on you. Don’t distract your audience with what’s going on around you. Try to find a place that’s free of disruptive background noise. Avoid visual distractions. What’s behind you should be simple, professional, and not too revealing of your personal habits. Can’t come up with a desired background? That’s OK. Take advantage of background images or the blur feature that most video conferencing platforms provide.
5. Find the Right Angle for your Camera
Is your computer only a couple of years old? Chances are good that it has a sufficient forward-facing camera for your video conferencing needs. An alternative is an external camera. Either method requires a little adjusting to get the angle correct. The goal? Recreate the experience of speaking directly to a person as much as possible. No one wants to look up your nose or down at the top of your head. For external cameras, experiment with tilt. Try clipping the camera to different spots on your computer. For built in computer cameras, try adding a computer stand. Putting a book or two underneath your laptop can work wonders. For both, don’t be afraid to adjust the camera settings until the image looks right.
6. Act as if you are meeting in-person
The tips above will help you to create a professional looking video conference stream. Creating that good first impression? That’s up to you. Treat the meeting like a professional. Video conferences can feel comfortable and less formal. Don’t let that fool you. Behave in the same professional manner you would for an in-person meeting or interview.
Keep in mind that video feeds can be slightly delayed. It’s easy to sound like you are interrupting or being long winded. Remember to give the audience time to respond when you make a comment or pose a question. Make sure they are done with their question or comment before you speak.
Our best advice?
Test everything out before the big day. Do a dry run with the camera and headphones. See what backgrounds work and don’t. Select your outfit and see if it looks good on camera. Position yourself to make that best first impression.