Helpful Tips to Look Better on Your Video Calls

It’s time to take video chat seriously.

Do you remember a time when video calls only appeared in science fiction? It seemed like a luxury everyone would be enjoying. Why would we not?

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a pop culture history lesson. It’s refreshing to think about a communication feature that came and went, and has now returned to the stage.

Video chat has become our new standard for communication. Conversations with coworkers, family, and even our doctor. All on video; all requiring we have our act together (at least on screen).

I’ve had to semi-retire my cameras for work. I now spend more time lighting and framing my own video calls. Do you know who else is doing the same? Everyone.

Here are five tips on showing yourself in the best possible light on video calls.


Planning is everything. As you walk through these tips, consider the easiest way to plan for a video call. Turn on your phone or computer camera and preview the image.

Now on to the rest.

5. Background

Look I get it. Many of us are working from home. Here in San Francisco, few people live in decadent homes made for House Hunters SF.

As a result, we are all having to call in from our couches, kitchen counters, or bedrooms. Yet there are ways to boost the quality of your video set.

  • Remove any laundry, dishes or food from view
  • Look for any distracting items; bright or inappropriate
  • Avoid showing major traffic areas, if sharing your space

Yes, you can always upload a fake background image. But fair warning, if it’s not what you want everyone to see and forget to change it…

4. Framing

Think about every single photo you’ve seen of yourself, taken from a low angle looking up. Have it in your mind? Imagine that being how everyone sees you on video.

Exactly. Now let’s get down to business.

  • Raise your computer or phone so that the camera is near to eye level. Avoid appearing to look down on the camera, and thus everyone else.
  • Sit close enough that you represent roughly 1/3 of the image on the screen.
  • Avoid cutting off the top of your head in the frame.

3. Lighting

This is everything in photography and videography. Guess what? It’s the same when you’re on a video call, only you are the art director and the subject.

You must manage your lighting intensity and direction. If you look like a villain giving a ransom message in the dark, who are you helping?

  • Avoid backlighting. Place yourself with window light hitting your face and not your back.
  • Wear anything other than white or black, so that your camera’s exposure stays balanced.
  • Prioritize light on yourself and less concern about the background.

2. Posture

It can be difficult to sit through calls lasting for hours. What’s worse is when your posture reflects your emotions. Unfortunately, you’re right on stage 99% of the time.

  • Choose comfortable seating.
  • Leaning back and slouching creates the low face-angle you want to avoid.
  • Sit up straight if it’s a work call, even if you’re wearing shorts.

1. Eye Contact

Note where your camera is on the computer or phone. Not the screen but the camera lens. This is where you should be looking when talking to someone. Not the screen itself.

  • Place the video app centered and at the top of your screen, unless you are using a full-screen option.
  • Listening doesn’t require seeing the person as much as it does eye contact.
  • Look at the camera lens as much as possible when listening and talking, even if it seems odd. You’ll appear much more attentive to others.

With a few simple tweaks, you are now looking like a professional YouTuber. Or closer to it than before at least.

While we’re all adjusting to a new way of communicating, this may be a more permanent change for some. It’s time to start taking it as seriously as you would a meeting in person.

Your family loves you, but they don’t need to revisit the college visits.

It’s time to learn how to show up in 2020.

Thanks for reading! ✖ ️Leave some comments below or connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

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Art director, tech geek, and house shoe enthusiast. ✖ I write about creativity, personal growth, and productivity, one existential crisis at a time.

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