Covid-19 has turned us into a nation of Facetimers, Zoomers and Microsoft Teamers – in recent months we’ve seen a boom in online activities including; meetings, family get togethers, dinner parties, quizzes, and even weddings, but many of us are still lurking in the dark and not using good lighting to improve our calls.
Sitting in front of a webcam for hours is now normal.
Here’s some lighting tips to impress your colleagues on work calls, ensure Grandma can actually see the grandkids and stop your friends thinking you are joining them from a mesozoic era cave.
It is important to recognise that even in the work from home / video conferencing world it is important to look your best as first impressions still count, and colleagues and customers make snap judgements based on your appearance.
You wouldn’t turn up to a business meeting without washing, in your pyjamas and proceed to turn the lights off so no one can see you – you definitely shouldn’t do it on a Zoom or Teams meeting.
One of the quickest, and easiest things you can do to improve the quality of your video calls is to improve your lighting. You will be amazed at how many comments of how good you look you’ll get.
Great ways to make sure you light up their day.
Find the best place in your house for your video calls and adjust your kit ahead of time, to avoid in call “fiddling”. It can be really distracting and often you can end up looking worse than before the adjustment, as well as feeling very conscious of this throughout the rest of your call.Natural light is great, if you can sit facing a window that’s perfect, but most people can’t and it is always worth a lighting boost as it gets darker in the afternoon or on cloudy days.
Never sit with a window behind you though, as you don’t want to be backlit, and will appear as an indistinguishable silhouette which can cause an unwanted effect on other people’s screens.
Adjustable video lights can be set to a warm colour temperature, to give the feel of natural soft light (and not blind you) and are easily controllable as your room becomes lighter / darker throughout the day.
Also, think about how you are going to listen in and make yourself heard, rather than shouting at the screen Bluetooth earpieces are brilliant and we would highly recommend the Jabra Talk 25, works well and is great value for money.
This may sound obvious, but camera position is crucial, and can go a long way towards making you look good on calls.It is important to try to keep it at eye level, if don’t have the perfect setup, it is possible to go DIY by simply stacking some books to get your camera at the right height.
Also remember people like eye contact – so they don’t want to look up or down at you. This “framing” for the camera also helps with nonverbal communication, be aware of your facial expressions, smiles go along way to remind the participants that you are a friendly and easy-going person. Remember to still nod, and let people know you are actively listening while they are speaking.
For video conferencing / video call purposes, it is best to place your primary light source behind your camera and shining centrally from the same direction. If you use a dedicated video light, suction cups are a fantastic way of attaching the light to your laptop / monitor.
If it is not possible to place the light source right in front of you, try to make sure it is not more than 45 degrees away from directly in front of you. Tripods are fantastic for facilitating this and many will be ball mounted to allow you to target the angle of your light.
Particularly on work calls, act as you would in person, behaving as you would in a face-to-face meeting. If you are going to do something you wouldn’t in a normal meeting, make sure your camera is off and you are on mute. It is particularly important to acclimatise yourself with the controls when you use different types of video conferencing software.