Unless you are a media personality or avid streamer then odds are your video presence sucks. In today’s digital age, video calls have become an integral part of professional communication. Whether you’re meeting with clients or colleagues, it’s essential to present yourself in a way that conveys competence and confidence. Since the social lockdown of COVID-19, it has become commonplace to take meetings on platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype. For most, this sudden shift to telepresence required them to scramble to get the proper tools to work over video. Entire online companies reformed to help many businesses combat this visual shift.
However, even now, many professionals haven’t taken the proper time to evaluate what they look like on video during these meetings, often leaving a very unprofessional but understandable image to those they take meetings with. Many professionals don’t think of how they’re presented on these video calls, even though they take time to put on a nice suit, prepare presentations, and be punctual to set a good impression.
There are several common mistakes that professionals make when setting up their video meetings, such as failing to consider the background behind them, leading to distracting or unprofessional settings. To ensure that you present yourself in the best possible light during video calls, it’s important to invest in a quality camera and microphone to ensure that your video and audio quality is clear. Taking a few moments before your call to adjust your camera angle and lighting can also make a big difference in how you appear on camera.
If you read this article and only have one takeaway, I recommend putting your camera above your line of sight. I cannot tell you how many meetings I’ve taken where someone has a low-quality laptop camera placed below their jawline, making it appear as though they have an unintended double chin. This can be off-putting and doesn’t present a good look for the person you’re speaking with. Be sure to also make sure that your face is in the center of the camera. Remember, you’re taking a professional one-on-one meeting or a meeting with a group, not making an effort for a cinematic shot.
We can’t hear you.
Usually one of the first pieces of advice that content creators receive is that it’s better to have bad video than audio. People can tolerate bad video content, but if the audio is bad, it will ruin the experience entirely. Therefore, it’s essential to take time to record yourself using a screen recorder or use OBS and listen to what you sound like during a video call.
If you sound decent, then it’s up to you to judge whether or not to invest in a proper microphone for your setup. If your audio is less than stellar, I recommend buying a simple $50 to $100 USB microphone. Many people choose the Blue Yeti for their setup, but I personally use a Rode Podcast Mic, which is a bit more expensive.
After establishing that you have a proper audio input device, spend time to ensure that the quality and settings are proper. Nobody wants to listen to somebody speak loudly into a microphone only to have them peeking the whole time. By taking the time to invest in a proper microphone and ensuring that your audio quality is up to par, you’ll be able to make a positive impression during your video calls.
What's your camera quality?
When it comes to camera quality, it really depends on your situation. If you’re often traveling, having a complete secondary camera outside of a laptop might be a hard thing to have on you at all times. However, if you have a dedicated setup in your office, then investing in a better camera might be something you should look into. You can get a decent 1080p web camera for about $50. If you take a lot of online video meetings, and it’s essential to your job, then I would invest in something a little bit more robust.
Many professionals use their iPhone as a webcam since it shoots 4K camera resolution. Personally, I use a Canon EOS M50 that I picked up used for $400. This makes my video quality on par with million-dollar streaming channels. However, it’s important to note that cameras come in a range of different quality and sizes. Most webcams are presented as straight-out-of-the-box solutions, which often means that they don’t look as great compared to professional DSLR cameras used as webcams.
By investing in a better camera, you can significantly improve the quality of your video calls, making it easier to present yourself professionally during meetings. Of course, it’s essential to consider your specific situation and needs before deciding whether or not to invest in a better camera. Ultimately, by taking the time to ensure that your video setup is up to par, you’ll be able to make a positive impression during your video calls and improve your overall professional image.
Some things to consider.
- Is it a 1080P or 4k resolution camera? (Higher the better)
- Is your video 3:4 or 16:9 format? (16:9 is more professional)
- Do you have autofocus on your camera? (Manual is better)
- Can you adjust the brightness and depth of field? (Play around til it looks good)
- Are you able to adjust the color settings for the space you are in? (Adjust the gamma!)
Let there be light
How you position the lighting in your room can dramatically impact how others perceive you during video calls. For instance, if you have too much light coming from one direction, it can make you appear blown out. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough light in the room, then it can make you look like you’re sitting in the dark. Therefore, it’s essential to use a three-point lighting system to achieve even lighting and a professional appearance.
To achieve a three-point lighting system, you’ll need to consider where your outside light sources are, the positions of your inside light sources, and secondary lights positioned to highlight the area behind you. By positioning your lights correctly, you can achieve an even sense of lighting that will help you look your best during video calls.
Investing in proper lighting is just as important as investing in a quality camera and microphone. By taking the time to set up your lighting correctly, you can create a professional and polished appearance during your video calls, projecting competence, confidence, and professionalism.
Behind every great face on camera is a well-designed set
The background that sits behind you during video calls is an important aspect of your overall appearance. Whenever I move offices, I take the time to design a background that represents me while also conveying professionalism and a bit of fun. For some people, this might mean putting up posters of famous movies or creating a bookshelf full of reading materials and knick-knacks. It’s also a great opportunity to play around with creative lighting, such as highlighting different pieces that sit behind you or using colorful lighting that comes in from different directions.
Creating a good background for your video is not difficult, as long as you don’t have any construction behind you or large windows that may turn you into a silhouette. If you’re designing a background for your office video for the first time, I recommend going on YouTube and looking at different professional streamers to see what they’re doing. This can provide inspiration and help you find a background that you’d like to easily emulate.
By taking the time to design a background that represents you and conveys professionalism, you can create a positive impression during your video calls and improve your overall professional image. Remember, your background is an important aspect of your overall appearance, so it’s worth investing the time and effort to get it right.
In today’s digital age, video calls have become an integral part of professional communication. It’s essential to present yourself in a way that conveys competence, confidence, and professionalism during these calls. However, many professionals fail to consider the impact of their video setup on how they’re perceived during these meetings.
Luckily, improving your video setup doesn’t have to be expensive. You can start with low-budget upgrades such as a decent webcam, microphone, and lighting. As you become more comfortable with your setup, you can steadily increase your budget to invest in higher-quality equipment.
Remember to evaluate your camera quality, audio quality, lighting, and background to ensure that you’re presenting yourself in the best possible light. By taking the time to invest in quality equipment and creating a professional background, you can make a positive impression during your video calls and improve your overall professional image.
So, start with low-budget upgrades and gradually increase your investment over time. By doing so, you’ll be able to project competence, confidence, and professionalism during your video calls and improve your overall professional image.
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