Looking even better in video calls

We’ve covered the technical side of looking good in video calls before, but unsurprisingly, things move on fast and I’ve learned some new tips in the past few weeks. OK, this might not matter for a Zoom pub quiz, but it’s really worth making the effort for calls which involve customers or prospects.

Some people think that because you can do good video calls on a smartphone, the IT hardware requirements of a video call are low and any old laptop will do. This underestimates how powerful smartphones are, and that they’re set up for tasks like this. So it’s a good idea on laptops and PCs to give your videoconferencing software all the resources they need. Close down all those background apps. And make sure you have a good internet connection! If you can’t connect to your router via Ethernet, at least make sure you’re reasonably close to it when using wi-fi.

The importance of good lighting is something we all now know about. Put the lighting behind the camera, not behind you, try to bounce it off a wall if it’s strong enough, and don’t mix natural and artificial light sources. Above all, you can test out the lighting and setup in your own time, so there’s no excuse for not getting it right. Pay just as much attention to the sound; a decent headset with its own microphone is best, but if you don’t want to look like you’re in Mission Control, invest in good bluetooth earbuds with microphones, like Apple’s Earpods.

Try to use rooms with soft furnishings (or get some added) to reduce the echo. Find a non-distracting background, and try to do better than a scruffy magnolia wall. The contents of people’s bookshelves has become a running gag in recent weeks, but there’s a reason that books are chosen as a backdrop: they work.

Finally, look professional. Don’t allow domestic intrusions, dress reasonably smartly, avoid intricate patterns or intrusive jewellery, and stop that chair from spinning!