I’ve been on enough video calls to know that everyone could use a little help looking their best. From virtual weddings to work meetings, we all suddenly have to be on camera in our homes. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been optimising my own video chat setup: from knowing where to sit to get the best light, to choosing the right microphone, to just staying comfortable.

It’s best to start with lighting because that will dictate where you are sitting. Open up your blinds and let the natural light pour in, but don’t let all that light hit your back. I recommend having your largest light source either right in front of you or no more than 45 degrees away from directly in front of you. Also be aware that your screen can be a large source of light, so adjust your screen brightness, too, especially if you are taking a call without natural light. A bright screen can blow the highlights on your face out, making you look more like Casper the Ghost than a video calling champion.

One of the best parts about working from home is getting to wear sweatshirts and sweatpants all day, but that may not be the right move for a video call. Dress how you would for an in-person meeting, and make sure to follow your workplace’s dress code. You don’t need to do anything extra, like put on makeup if you don’t wear it normally, but it’s a good idea to present a reasonably good appearance. It’s best to avoid patterns or stripes which may be distracting on camera. It also doesn’t hurt to have good posture.

Be attentive and engaged during the call. As tempting as it is, try not to do any other work or read articles or send emails. Don’t look at your phone and don’t eat! Try to look into the camera when you talk. If you look at yourself or others on your screen, it may look like you’re looking at something else. When you’re not talking, make sure you’re paying attention to whoever’s speaking or sharing their screen and that you’re looking at any materials you may need to reference. Again, others can see where you’re looking.

As a courtesy to others, please keep your mic muted unless you are talking. You might be used to your neighbour’s midday living room party, but no one else is!

Finally, there is one, and only one, acceptable camera angle: head-on and at eye level. Your table is almost certainly going to be lower than your face, and that means people are going to get an unflattering look up at you. Use a set of books, a stool, or a higher table to make sure your camera is at the same level as your eyes. You don’t want people to feel like they are looking up or down at you.

Now, go out into the virtual world looking and feeling flawless.

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