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How you look better on zoom (and other video calling apps)



  Portraits of the author in different lighting situations.

More professional (and personal) interactions are taking place through Zoom and other video calling apps, and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon. Just like at a personal meeting or date, it is important to look your best during video calls. Here's how to use it for your webcam.

Finding better lighting

In a professional broadcast studio, the cameras don't make people look good ̵

1; it's the lighting. No matter how much money the producers throw expensive lenses, they can't make anyone presentable if the lighting is terrible. The same is true at home.

We don't advocate investing your life savings in a 10,000 lumens studio lighting setup. However, you can choose a place in your home for video calls with good lighting.

You want to avoid overhead lighting because they cast weird shadows and highlights on your face. They also tend to disturb the overall balance.

  A man in the shade because of poor lighting.
An example of poor lighting. Don't look at my shiny forehead!

Backlighting is also bad. You look dark and shadowy against a too light background. Compensating with a light for you doesn't help much either.

  A man in the shadows because of poor backlighting.
Backlighting is not a strong look for me – or anyone.

What you & # 39; re looking for is a place with nice even front lighting. The easiest place to find it is in front of a large window.

  A man clearly visible and well lit thanks to front lighting.
It looks a lot better for a window.

This is one of the best & # 39; photography hacks & # 39; to look good whether you're taking a selfie or giving a professional presentation. Just find the largest, brightest window in your house and put it in front of it. You look better than anyone during the call!

RELATED: Taking Better Pictures at Home (No Flash Needed)

Raise Your Camera [19659004] Nobody Looks Up Under His Chin, but that's probably your laptop's webcam. Computer manufacturers prefer small things, such as usability and price, over your appearance on the camera.

To look your best, you want your webcam to be at (or just above) eye level. That's how people normally see you personally, and that's what they unconsciously expect.

  A man at eye level.
See how much better my jawline looks with the camera at eye level.

your camera up to eye level, you can invest in a laptop stand or go old-school and stack some books underneath. If you use your smartphone, put it against what you have on hand or buy a small tripod.

You can also purchase an external keyboard and mouse if you need your computer while making a phone call.

Look at the camera (and dim your screen)

Eye contact is extremely important in Western culture. We mistrust people who cannot maintain it or constantly look away. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make real eye contact due to the way video calls are set up. When you look at someone's eyes on the screen, that person sees you looking down.

  Man looks frontally.
Look at this friendly fellow; he wouldn't sell you a timeshare.

Although you cannot always keep it up, if you present or talk a lot, you want to create the illusion that you are watching your audience. So look directly at your webcam as much as possible. It's hard to do this with all the distractions on the screen, but here are a few things you can do:

  • Hide or shrink the preview from you: I use mine as a mirror and I know that I am not alone. You can easily find yourself checking your hair.
  • Dim your screen: Give this a try unless you absolutely need to see everyone. It is more convenient to create the illusion that you are looking at people than it is to look at someone.

Test your internet connection

 A grainy picture.

Video chats require a fairly fast, very stable internet connection. It doesn't matter how good you look on your webcam if all your WiFi can send a pixelated splodge.

Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and all other video calling apps adjust the quality of the video you send and receive to keep the connection. This means that even if you have a slow connection you can still connect, you just don't look right.

Zoom's minimum system requirements give you a good idea of ​​the necessary specifications: [19659030] For one-to-one calls: 1.8 Mbps up / down is required to send and receive 1080p HD video.

  • For Group Calls: 2.5 Mbps up / down is required to receive 1080p HD video, and 3.0 Mbps up / down is required to transmit 1080p HD video.
  • Go to Speedtest to check the speed of your internet connection. If you get anything less than 3.0 Mbps, you won't be able to send high-quality video. Even if your connection is 3.5 or 4.0 Mbps, it will likely be low enough to cause you problems at times.

    If you have a fast internet connection, that's great! If not, there are some steps you can take to speed it up for a conversation. First, ask someone else using the network to quit (take a break from Netflix, kids!). Use a device with wired Ethernet.

    If you still can't get a connection fast enough with these tips, there are some other tips you can try.

    RELATED: Speed ​​Up Your Internet Connection

    Use Your Best Camera

      A photo of a man taken with a DSLR camera.
    A better camera makes you look better.

    The webcam on many laptops is, well, mediocre – especially if you compare them to the front cameras on modern smartphones. The 12 MP TrueDepth camera on the iPhone 11 is better than the 720p FaceTime camera on a brand new, 16-inch MacBook Pro. If you use an iPhone as a webcam, you are guaranteed to get more beautiful video than on your MacBook.

    Of course, it is easiest to just use your laptop, especially for professional calls. However, if you have the option, it's worth supporting and connecting your smartphone at eye level to charge. Not only do you look better during your call, but you can also use your computer when needed.

    If you really want to look great and you have a DSLR camera, you can boost things even further. and use it as a webcam. There's a bit of setup involved, and not all cameras are capable of that, but the payoff is huge.

    RELATED: How to Use a Digital Camera as a Webcam

    Go Forward and Zoom!

    It doesn't take much effort to look much better with video calls. Whether you use Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet, Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams or any of the other countless video chat apps, you can make sure you always look your best.

    Just figure out your lighting situation, stuff your best camera at eye level and make sure you look at it, and you're good to go!


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