As billions across the world have been forced to work or learn from home as a result of the coronavirus, many are discovering the unique joys and difficulties of telecommunicating. While sending off emails is easy enough to do from your bedroom, there is an etiquette to be learned when it comes to video-chatting with colleagues or teachers. For many, video-chatting gives a window into our domestic lives, the messy, unmade bed that we leave at home when we enter the office, or perhaps the lavish three-story townhouse we hide from our employees.
So what’s the key to presenting our best over a webcam? Consider these tips.
Keep it Neutral
It’s imperative to minimize distractions and noise when video-chatting. While this means making sure noisy children or pets are out of the picture, it also means you should consider what is behind you. A flashing TV screen, a distracting photograph on the wall, or even a bright window can pull focus away from your face and your words. Try to find a place in the house that is free of noise pollution, and where you can sit in front of a one-tone wall or backdrop.
Or, Show Some Personality
If sitting in front of a plain white wall really bums you out, consider professional ways to show off your home’s personality. A bookcase full of literature, or a well-lit kitchen might present well on camera, but keep in mind that the people chatting with you might make judgments based on your background. If you’re not ready to tell co-workers that you’re a superhero memorabilia enthusiast, best not to sit in front of your action figure collection. As always, you want to be the star of the show, not whatever is behind you.
Lighting and Sound
To guarantee you will be easily heard over your webcam, consider setting up in a room with furniture and carpeting. An empty space that’s all wood and glass might be a great place for solitary work, but it will cause some echo when you are video conferencing.
In terms of lighting, avoid sitting directly beneath a light source. It will cast shadow under your eyes and around your nose. For best results, sit directly opposite a lamp or window that lights your face evenly from about two feet of distance. If you really want to invest in your beauty, consider buying a “ring light,” a favorite of Instagram influencers that casts a perfectly even LED light onto your face and eliminates all shadow.
If you’ve ever taken a selfie, you know that angles matter. If your camera is too low beneath your face, you’re going to show off a double-chin to viewers. Best to keep the camera at eye-level, or slightly above your face pointing down.