How to Look Good on Video Calls
Whether we like it or not, work meetings, catch ups with friends and even dates will be held as video calls for the foreseeable future, with Zoom being one of the most common platforms. Designer Tom Ford has issued his own set of guidelines for how to look good on video calls. And if Tom Ford is sharing guidance, then it is clearly a thing.
So here are my top tips for looking good and making an impact on Zoom (or substitute whichever digital platform it is that you use whenever I mention Zoom). While I focus mostly on work meetings, the same principles can be applied (or not) when it comes to social Zoom catch ups and dates.
1. Camera Angle
Most important of all is camera angle. Whether you’re using your laptop, a tablet or phone, camera angle is crucial. We’ve all seen those people who have their device on the table, with the camera angled upwards, highlighting their chin(s) and nostrils.
Your camera should be at eye level or slightly higher. So stack some books or get a laptop stand to make sure you can securely rest your device at the right height and angle.
Lighting is also crucial to get right when it comes to your Zoom set up. Make sure there is a light source in front of you, directed at your face. Natural light is best, but if you can’t position yourself to face a window, then there are great clip on ring lights you can attach to your computer screen.
Play around with the positioning of your light to make sure you’re not casting shadows on your face.
If there is a bright light or window behind you, then you will appear as a shadowy silhouette. Add a light source (lamp or clip-on ring light) in front of you, lighting your face to correct the problem.
3. Video correction
Did you know that Zoom has a built-in filter effect that smooths out your face ever so slightly and flatteringly?
When you’re in Zoom, click on “zoom.us” in the top left-hand corner of the screen. Then click “preferences”, then “Video” and in the “My Video” section, tick the “touch up my appearance” box. This will then stay as the default setting for all your Zoom meetings going forward.
4. What you Wear
When it comes to working from home, I advise all of my clients the same way on this point: dress professionally and commit to the whole look - not just the top half that can be seen on camera. I have written a post about this here. But it basically comes down to the fact that what we wear impacts our emotions and our productivity – studies have proven this. And if you’re wearing sweatpants (even if you’ve got a good top on), they will drag you down.
On a video call, your clothes should support what you have to say, not take centre stage. Therefore avoid fine prints (what we refer to as “ditzy” prints) as they comes across as a bit buzzy or blurry on camera. Instead go for big, bold prints, or block colours.
As for colours, go for what works best with your skin tone. For many people this means avoiding pale colours which might wash you out (unless you have a fabulous suntan). To stand out and be able to draw attention to what you have to say or to make your point more impactfully, wear a bold, bright colour.
For work calls where you need to make an impression or influence the outcome of the meeting, shoulder definition is an important way to stand out, assert your presence and look sharp. A sharp blazer will do the trick.
Also think about your neckline. Avoid turtle necks as they can make you look like a floating head if you haven’t planned your lighting and background carefully. Make sure your neckline of your top is visible. I was recently on a call with friends, and one of the girls was wearing a strappy top, but the way her hair was positioned, it looked like she might have been topless.
Also consider wearing a dress. It's the quickest and easiest way to put on a single piece and feel immediately put-together.
Because you’re only visible from chest-up, it’s good to use accessories in a thoughtful way. A well-co-ordinated statement necklace or earrings adds interest and makes an impact (for the right reasons). But because you are only seen from chest up, it is important to accessorise according to your face shape. This is something I work with my clients on in shape and colour consultations.
Big hairbands or scarves can also be used to cover up roots if you haven't been able to get to the hairdressers in a while.
A bright lipstick that works with your skin tone can be very helpful when it comes to making a point. If you are in a meeting with a lot of other participants in their own little squares on the screen, then it can be difficult to work out who is speaking at any time. With a bright lipstick you will more quickly be identified as the speaker.
You can also go a bit more intense with the makeup on a video call, as makeup can be lost on camera. No need to go full-Kardashian, but a little bit of contouring can go a long way.
Plan your background carefully. Check to make sure the background is free from clutter. Whether its your work colleagues or a video date, avoid putting out a slothful image to your audience. And if you have book shelves in the background take a look to make sure you’re comfortable sharing your collection with everyone – are there any self-help titles you wouldn’t want your colleagues to know you were reading up on?
For work, particularly more formal, conservative or corporate meetings, the less you have in the background the better: less distraction. But for dates, or for work meetings in informal industries like media and tech, it’s good to show a bit of your personality with artwork or furniture that expresses who you are.
For help with your own styling, whether its for work or social (or mixing the two), click the enquire button below: