First impressions have always been important, but when working from home became the new normal last year, entrepreneurs everywhere had to optimize their video calls to make the best impression on new clients. With face-to-face interviews and consultations, you likely already perfected what it takes to look your best — clean fingernails, perfect hair, the finest clothes — but how do these skills translate to an entirely virtual sphere?
When using Zoom or another video call app, looking your best is more complicated than just sweeping a comb over your hair — it can take some audio and video skills. But what if, like most entrepreneurs, you are not an expert in film? Thankfully, it is not too difficult to get you looking your best. All you need are a few simple tips to make the most of your video call set up:
"When using Zoom or another video app, looking your best is more complicated than just sweeping a comb over your hair — it can take some audio and video skills."
• Place your source of light in front of you.
Making sure you are visible to the camera is an important first step. When your home office is too dark, the shadows can leave you looking like one of those talking heads whose identities need to be kept secret. The best way to brighten you up on camera is to put your source of light slightly above and directly behind your webcam.
If you do not have a lamp or ring light, natural light from a window is a wonderful solution. Just make sure you are facing the window; never sit where a window can be seen on camera or the light pouring into from behind you will cast you in shadow. Also, remember that your computer acts as a light source as well, so adjust your screen brightness to make sure it does not make you glow.
• Adjust your appearance for the camera.
It is still important to dress your best — not only for your clients but to foster a professional mindset for yourself — but there are slight adjustments you need to make to look great on camera. Simple, colored shirts work best for video. While white and black will work as well, sometimes the brightest whites and darkest blacks can draw in light from everything else in the frame. Finally, don’t wear anything with a busy pattern, as these pop more on camera than they do in person, distracting your audience.
• Set up the perfect environment.
Like it or not, people make subconscious judgments about what they see on camera. For example, a messy office will not project the authority of someone who stays on top of their deadlines. Keep the wall behind you blank (this also helps the app’s virtual background features, if you want to use those). No need to remodel your home completely — having one or two pieces of art in frames is okay — just be mindful of how everything in the frames will reflect on you.
When it comes to being on camera, make sure you are in the center of the frame. Sit a few feet back so you do not engulf the image and stack your laptop on some books if you need to raise it a bit. Just make sure no part of you gets cropped out of the picture!
• Get an external microphone.
You need clean audio if your clients are going to understand what you are saying. Unfortunately, built-in computer microphones typically do not cut it. They will work if they are all you have, but any external mic you can get your hands on is going to sound much better. Silence your desktop notifications to prevent disruptive sounds from interrupting your speech as well. Finally, make sure you set up in a quiet space with minimal noise before you make your call.
"Most external mics you can get your hands on is going to sound much better than your computer’s built-in microphone."
In the end, a great video call boils down to two aspects: your appearance and your equipment. When in doubt, test your video before your call. Find a friend who can sit down for a call and help you explore the app’s features — or start a meeting by yourself so you can see how you look and sound.
Adjusting so abruptly to virtual meetings has been difficult for every business. A glitch in audio or video will likely be forgiven, but you will make a much better impression to your clients if you look great and sound clear using these helpful tips.
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