Online video chatting has become so mainstream these days that everyone seems to be doing it. But with the rise of live conferencing and Skype interviews, its easy to think that live video conferencing doesn’t demand the same level of preparation you would require for an in-person interview or a direct client meeting, but video chat can bring its own complications and people often feel disappointed with how they look in the video chat sessions.
Irrespective of whether you are gearing up for a cross-country job interview, Skype video call with your long-distance love interest, or FaceTiming your parents, these expert video chatting tips will help you look your best onscreen.
Make Use of Multiple Sources of Indirect Light
Unlike photo-editing, unfortunately there aren’t many cool filters for video chats yet. Hence it is up to you how to make use of your surrounding light sources and look your best. Irrespective of how good the camera on you laptop or smartphone (or web cam, if you’re using a good old desktop PC) is, the quality of lighting dictates the quality of the video (or photo, for that matter), not the camera lens. With insufficient or too much lighting for Skype video chats, even an excellent camera lens will struggle to find focus and clarity. A good web camera unfortunately does not fix bad quality light.
For video chatting, overhead lighting is the worst possible light source that you can use, because it leaves dark shadows under your eyes and face. Hence for best results, keep your light sources as diffused as possible. For example, instead of leaving a window open, use a curtain in front of the window to diffuse the extra dose of direct sunlight. Similarly, instead of using an overhead industry grade lamp try using two or three low-intensity lamps in the room.
Position (of the Camera) is Everything
Most of us are habituated to hold our smartphones below our faces at all times while video chatting. Even tablets and compact laptops have their web cams in such a position that it is always angled facing upwards on our faces. Unfortunately, this awkward angling can make your face look fatter and show off the insides of your nostrils. Ew!
To avoid this, keep your smartphone, tablet or laptop’s camera directly in front of your eye level. For best results, don’t keep the camera too close to your face, but keep it away to reduce the fish-eye lens effect. Tilt your chin slightly down while maintaining your eyes up.
Look Presentable to Look Your Best
Watch what you wear and watch your makeup.Remember that your on-screen image should be in line with your professional image. Depending on your profession, choose a tone of makeup that compliments your personality. And when it comes to clothing, avoid big, bold prints and patterns. Keep jewelry to the minimum and keep things simple.
Bonus: Since only your face and shoulders are going to be in the video frame, pants are optional! 😉
Your background as an important part of the visual story you’re telling via the live video chat. Would you take a selfie in that position? If the answer is NO, it’s probably best to find a better location. Avoid clutter. Consider painting a spot of wall in the room with your company’s logo/theme colors and even paint the company logo to serve as the backdrop. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to come across as a professional business.
Aim for the Best Audio/Visual
Any sort of disturbance or distraction can ruin an otherwise perfect video conference. So it is worth considering to use a good quality HD cam if your device lacks one. While most modern day smartphone headsets are of sufficiently good quality, you may consider going for a dedicated headset that attaches itself to your laptop via USB if you are using a computer for the video conference.
If you have pets, make sure they’re in a different room (same goes for children, if possible). Remember, if you wouldn’t want something in a live face to face meeting you shouldn’t have it on a video conference!