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5 clever tricks to look great on Zoom video calls

Zoom, and other video conferencing programs, make it easy to do your work from home. But no matter how much you get done in a day, it never feels good when you don’t look your best on camera.

In the pre-pandemic days, going to work meant putting yourself together to look presentable. Now, you might be able to get away with off-camera bunny slippers and pajama pants, but there’s no excuse for grainy or out-of-focus visuals. Tap or click here to see 9 other work-from-home mistakes you’re making.

Fortunately, looking good on camera isn’t hard once you know what you’re doing. Here are our favorite tried and tested ways to look your best on your video calls.

1. It’s all about lighting

Nothing is worse than having light behind or above you, while your camera points at your face. This has the effect of making your background brighter than you are and can make you look like an anonymous witness in a true-crime documentary.

To keep yourself looking fresh on camera, you need reliable, even lighting that your camera can easily pick up. Ring lights work best, and they’re used by video bloggers and YouTube celebrities the world over. There’s really no need for an expensive pro lighting rig.

This handy ring light from Yarrashop delivers natural-looking lighting in three different color temperatures. Play around and find the one that works best with your room, skin tone and camera. It even includes a built-in phone stand you can use for filming or stabilizing your shots.

For a bit more coin, you can upgrade to this ring light from AIXPI, which features an adjustable tripod that isn’t limited by the height of your desk.

If you want the most bang for your buck, this ring light kit from Neewer takes the cake. It has an adjustable tripod, wireless remote, color filters and an anchor for DSLR cameras to shoot from.

And for a finishing touch to perfect your lighting, make sure your screen’s brightness is only as high as it needs to be. Too bright of a screen is like shining a flashlight directly in your face, and you can bet the camera will pick up every last detail.

Pro tip: If your browser or programs are shining too much light, switch to dark mode. Instant filter!

2. Find your angle

Most webcams and phone cameras are wide-angle lenses. These capture a wider field of vision, at the cost of distorting the overall image. That’s fine for your photos but not so great when it comes to your face.

To fix this, see which angles make you look best on camera. The same principles that apply to photography work for video. Nobody looks good when shot from a low angle that looks right up your nose, so start with your camera just above eye level.

On your laptop, you can position your screen further back to achieve a different angle or prop it up on a stand or some books. If you use a desktop computer with a built-in webcam, adjust your monitor.

Computers are limiting, so you might prefer to turn to your smartphone or tablet for meetings. If so, a stand is the way to go.

This heavy-duty stand from Fugetech includes an adjustable tripod and mount that can position your phone in a variety of ways. It even includes a Bluetooth remote so you can test your shots from a distance.

Here’s another option. This flexible stand works with iPhones, iPad Air or Mini, Galaxy phones — anything from 4.7 to 7.5 inches. It’s got a strong, flexible neck and can rotate 360 to help you find your best angle. And it’s under $20, so tough to beat that.

3. Perform a ‘background check’

Quick, look behind you and describe what you see. If there’s nothing except a blank wall or brick, you’re already doing well. When it comes to your background, less is more — and a cluttered or unkempt room can reflect poorly on you. Tap or click here to see the basics you need to work from home.

If you have bookshelves or cabinets behind your work area, take some time to organize them so they appear clean on camera. Spruce up your background with some artificial plants for decoration. Over webcam, nobody will be able to tell they aren’t real, and the green will pop against plain walls.

If your background is less-than-ideal, improve the scene with this handy 3D adhesive wallpaper from Arthome. You can cut it to size and apply it directly to the wall for a natural rustic look. It’s a quick weekend DIY that will go a long way.

And if brick isn’t your style, this weathered wood option is a great alternative. It’s not 3D like the brick one, but it goes great with hardwood floors and wooden furniture.

If you know you’ll be working home for a while but don’t want to dramatically alter your living space, this vinyl backdrop is a perfect solution that you can put away at the end of the workday.

4. Dress for success

Now that your lighting, background and camera angles are looking good, time to focus on making yourself look good. The easiest way to do this is with a smart outfit. That means no graphic T-shirts, bland colors or distracting patterns that can draw attention away from your face.

For the ladies out there, this long-sleeve button-down shirt comes in a ton of colors and sizes. It’s 5% spandex, so it’s got plenty of room for you to move and breathe. No one said looking good has to be uncomfortable.

For you gentlemen, this button-down collared shirt from Van Heusen comes in a similar range of colors. The best part? It’s wrinkle-free, so you won’t have to iron in the mornings.

5. Check yourself before you wreck yourself

If you feel comfortable and presentable enough to go on camera, the last step is testing to make sure that everything looks good and works properly.

To test your Zoom camera before your next call, follow these steps below:

  1. Log in to the Zoom client.
  2. Click your profile picture then click Settings
  3. Click the Video tab.
  4. You’ll see a preview of your camera and can choose a different camera if needed. If you have a detached webcam plugged in on a tripod, you can switch to it here.

Now you’re ready to impress your team and stand out with your new workspace and equipment. Ready for your closeup?

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