Smile, You’re on Camera!
Video calling is probably a big part of our lives these days. All of us use video calls to keep in touch with our families, chat with friends and even to apply for jobs. In fact, a lot of organizations now prefer to conduct interviews exclusively through video calls.
All this means that it’s never been as important to look good during video calls as it is now. It’s important to make a good impression, even if you’re not going to be physically present with the person you’re talking to.
Here are 5 essential tips that will help you look better when video calling.
Lighting is not just something studios have to worry about – you should too. No matter where you are going to conduct the video call – in your room, in the park, a café or on your college campus – you need to choose a well-lit place. Natural light is preferable to artificial light. Natural light helps give your skin a healthy glow, while artificial light of the wrong kind may make your skin look harsh, your face old and promote shadows under your eyes.
A couple of diffuse (a curtain over a window) natural light sources falling on your face from behind the camera and on your back (behind you) should be perfect for most situations. If you can’t quite manage that, you can make diffuse (never direct) light work for you.
Camera Angle and Making Eye Contact
It’s better to make video calls with a webcam than with the built-in camera on your laptop or phone. With a webcam, you can manually adjust the viewing angle, so that the person on the other end will get the best perspective possible. You should try to set up the webcam in such a way that when you look at the screen, you appear to be making eye contact with the person you’re talking to.
This makes the video call more natural and it makes it easier for the person on the other end of the line to connect to you. It’s not necessary that you use a webcam – the camera on your laptop, or even on your phone, will do in a pinch. Just try to keep the camera steady, perhaps by piling books on your table to get it aligned with your face.
The ideal camera angle should be able to capture your face and the upper part of your body and keep it straight. You don’t want to give the person opposite you a top-down view when you’re talking to them.
Posture and Body Language
Your posture should be straight and erect during video calls. Of course, this doesn’t matter as much if you’re making a casual video call, but it can’t hurt if the person on the other end of the line thinks you’re being energetic and enthusiastic. Don’t slump in your seat and keep your shoulders pointed towards the person you’re speaking to.
Try to sit straight for the duration of the call. Get a good, comfortable chair that gives you enough height, so that you can look at the monitor without you having to crane your neck or stoop. Try to appear relaxed and confident. Don’t fidget if you can help it – a good chair should help with that.
Clothes and Presentation
Try to wear bright, professional clothing – even if you’re conducting the call from home. Feeling you’re well dressed will give you confidence, which will automatically carry over during the conversation. Wear clothes that match your profile. If you’re applying for a secretarial position, wear something professional and business-like, with little to no accessories and light touches of make-up. If you want to be a gym trainer, something casual and smart should be enough to impress the person.
In the case of most video calls, only the top half of your body will be visible, so try to pay more attention to that part of your body. Remember, warm colors look better on camera than dull, shiny, too-bright or reflective colors. Try to treat the video call interview like a real-life interview and you will do just fine.
Presentation is another important aspect of your video call. You have the opportunity to set the stage, so to speak, when it comes to video calls. You really should take advantage of it by choosing the right location from where to make the call. Try to take the call in a clean, neat room or an outdoor area. The person on the other end should see an attractive picture behind you – which will, in turn, serve to make you appear more attractive.
Also, if it’s an interview, you should prepare notes to help you answer questions or provide more information about certain topics. Keep important documents at hand – it’s rude to make the caller wait while you search for them.
And, finally, you should check your equipment before making video calls. Video calling is not just about looks – it’s also about the effort on preparation and organization you put into it. If you are well prepared and your call goes off without a hitch, you will make a much more favorable impression on the caller than you would otherwise. Working equipment goes a long way towards helping your video call go that much more smoothly.
If you’re using Wi-Fi, make sure the signal at your location is strong. You don’t want the video to appear grainy or the call to disconnect midway. These kinds of hitches will interrupt the flow of your conversation and waste the caller’s valuable time. Loose connections and wires should also be looked at. Also make sure the lens of the camera you’re using is clean – you don’t want the video to be smudgy.
Video calling gets easier with practice, in our experience. Once you have the basics figured out – like your wardrobe, the lighting and your presentation skills – you won’t have to work too hard to impress the caller. When you get it right, you can carry out a meaningful, engaging conversation even if you’re not physically present with the caller.