7 Tips to Help You Look Your Best on a Video Call

Whether you're on Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, here's how to look and feel good on a video call.

Self-quarantining and staying at home has been a challenge for so many. But it's been a boon to video chat platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, FaceTime, Skype, and Google Hangouts. We've all been video chatting more than ever these days, but as some of us have learned the hard way, putting yourself on video chat is a challenge. There is a reason why television hosts have makeup artists, world-class lighting, and a slew of help to make sure they each look their best on air. If you are doing a lot of video chatting—whether it's with coworkers, family, friends, or even a potential romantic interest—follow these very simple tips that will help you look your best on a video call.

Swap out the PJs for something you'd wear outside.

Young woman wearing hijab with headphones working on laptop

One of the lovely side effects of working from home is the ability to work in comfy clothes: pajamas, warm-ups, kimonos, velvet robes, whatever floats your boat. But if you are going to hop on a work-related video chat, take a few minutes to make yourself look presentable. Video chats are a visual medium and if you are looking too casual and messy, then you aren't really presenting your best self. No need to overdo it, but taking a minute to get dressed in something you'd wear outside will make a big difference.

Lift your laptop up.

young biracial woman on a video call while sitting at her desk

This might be the biggest mistake video chatters tend to make. The technical term in television production is "eye line" and that indicates where the camera lines up with the subject's eyes. Almost everyone participates in a video chat with their laptop on their lap or their computer on their desk, which means the camera is shooting up at an unflattering angle that accentuates the jowls. Do yourself a favor and elevate your computer so that the camera is even with your eyes. A stack of books or a counter at which you are sitting on a chair will suffice. This will almost certainly present a more flattering shot.

Dim the lights behind you.

middle-aged man of color relaxing on couch while video calling using laptop at home

When you're video chatting, make sure you are as well lit as possible, but don't turn on the lights behind you. Being backlit, or having the lights behind you on, will make you look shadowy and dark. If possible, try to position yourself in front of a window that lets in a lot of light. If that's not possible, find a bright room and make sure the lights behind you are off. It also might be wise to move a table lamp in front of you so that your face is bright and well lit.

Tidy up your "home office."

Happy smiling white blonde senior woman sitting at dining table, drinking red wine and having video call over at laptop

Before you launch into a video chat, take a minute to consider what is behind you and make sure it's clean and tidy. Also, it's not a bad idea to place some of your favorite artwork or books behind you. If you can, try to feature as much depth as possible in your background.

Keep things private and quiet.

Father On Laptop Holds Newborn Son As Mother Makes Meal

If you share your home with others, take some time to let everyone know you have a video conference so that they can be aware. Also, if possible, set yourself up in a room that you know will be private: a home office, the living room that's rarely used, or even your bedroom. Just be sure to abide by the aforementioned rule and consider how the background looks, regardless of where you set up.

Pick your moments to chime in.

woman working on computer smiling

The flow of a video call can be challenging, especially when it's a professional video chat. There is often a leader and an agenda to follow, but if not, pick your moments to chime in, and keep it short. Establish your thesis, illustrate your point, then wrap things up with an observation or joke, if appropriate.

Be aware of your body language.

black man sitting at desk looking at computer screen talking on video call

Video chats are very different than phone calls. People can see you even when you aren't talking. So while you don't need to be phony or fake, it doesn't hurt to be a bit performative: smile, sit up, and engage. It will pay off in a very big way!

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