Whether you are Zoom dating, sitting in on an important meeting with your coworkers, or checking in with your family, we all need to look our best. When spending vast amounts of time at home, keeping consistent routines is an important part of self-care. Part of my routine is getting up and ready for a myriad of virtual meetings each day.
I have had too many meetings when I’ve turned on the camera and quickly realized that I’m looking pretty rough. The “touch up my appearance” setting in Zoom simply can’t work the miracles I need it to!
In turn, I’ve been actively working on stepping up my Zoom game to at least pretend that I’m not pulling my hair out and it’s only fair that I share what I’ve learned this spring.
Don’t try to be overly ambitious and make all 8 tips happen at once. Focus on one, become a pro then add more to your repertoire over time. My favorite tips are at the end so, don’t miss them!
1. Place the camera higher than you – never EVER lower.
You are asking for trouble when your camera is lower than you. If you’re interested in prominently displaying a budding double chin or creating one that doesn’t exist, by all means, place it a bit lower. When I realized what a difference this makes, I placed my monitor on a stack of old textbooks. It does the trick every time – it’s amazing what this angle will do for you!
2. Stick your chin out a little more.
Go to a mirror right now and play with the angle of your chin. Compare your regular look, to a tucked in or slightly jutted out chin. When you tuck it in, you’ll see that your forehead goes forward and provides focus to the wider part of your face. Whatever you do, don’t stick your chin out high enough so that your nostrils show – you’ll look crazy. Stick out that chin a bit, tilt your head, and you can’t go wrong!
3. Mind your movement – too much can be distracting.
If you are talking with your hands, fiddling with your desk, or walking around, you are distracting viewers from your message. Sit close to the screen to take up about a ⅓ of the view. This should eliminate the distraction and ensure anyone on the other side of the camera is focused solely on you and what you have to say.
Of course, being zoomed in also helps if you’ve decided to look professional from the waist up and you are in day 3 of sweatpants.
4. Never face the camera head-on, angles are your friend.
Take 5 minutes and get to know your best angles. Turn your head slowly from one side to another in each direction. Tilt it from side to side and play with the position of your chin. Look at your face objectively to see what makes you appear the most visually appealing. I have trouble remembering this so I moved my Zoom monitor to the left-hand corner of my desk which caters to my better angle to help me keep this automatic. I’m not going to lie, some days I feel like every angle is a bad angle so just smile confidently and make it work.
5. Shoulders back, chin out.
Your mom was right. Don’t slouch! While many of us are in the unfortunate habit of slouching, it never hurts to change that pattern with gentle reminders on your laptop. I keep a sticky note on my monitor reminding me not to slouch, maybe this will work for you, too!
6. Lighting should be natural and diffused.
Open the window, thoughtfully place a lamp, or better yet, purchase a ring light. If your lighting is too cool, you’ll look tired and washed out. If the light is too warm, you might look too yellow. What you are going for is a cloudy day or dawn/sunset lighting that is bright but not too harsh. My simple solution was buying a ring light. For less than 30 bucks, you can choose the brightness and tone of your lighting that is consistent and thoughtfully placed ahead of time.
7. Hide the bags under your eyes with lighting from below.
Working from home while taking care of twins has not done my under eye bags any favors. If you can, light is best from a lower angle. It helps hide any loose skin and under-eye bags – not that you have any!
While considering lighting, the light should be in front of you more than behind you. However, if you are going for a witness-protection look, put 100% of the light behind you and no one will see your face.
Of course, as with most rules, there are exceptions. If you wear glasses, the light source needs to come from above to prevent glare.
8. Consider your background.
One of my favorite games is analyzing the subtle messages someone is sending with their background. Simply put, books in the background sends a different message than wine bottles. Keep your background mostly busy from distraction and make sure the colors are soft and flattering.
Bonus: What Would Beyonce Do?
If you want to look like Beyonce or Mariah Carey, I strongly suggest placing an oscillating fan in front of you for an occasional seemingly spontaneous burst of air through your hair.
Full Disclosure: When all else fails, I can neither confirm nor deny that I have created a video of myself “listening and working” that I downloaded into my Zoom as a virtual background that makes it look like I’m paying attention. It just might play on repeat despite me really just sitting there in my pajamas with a topknot.