We make decisions on how to present ourselves to the world every day. The clothes we wear, postures we assume, and body language we express are all key elements to how we are perceived by others.
However, given the necessary rise of virtual calls since 2020, the way we present ourselves to the world has drastically changed.
For some, adapting to this technological learning curve has been easy. For others, it's been a challenge just to unmute themselves in less than thirty seconds.
That's why we've compiled this guide to improving the look and sound of your video calls. We're here to help you express the best version of yourself, even through a screen.
Part 1: Video
There's a lot that goes into improving your video quality, but don't worry. We've got you covered.
Our Production Director, Dane Covey, explains how to make your image look at professional as possible in your online meetings.
One of the first things you should be thinking about when setting up your video call is lighting. If you're tucked away in the darkest corner of your home, no one will be able to see you properly.
One of the easiest ways to combat this is by using window light to your advantage.
"Sit in front of a window with your computer, tablet, or phone facing away from it," Dane says. "The soft, and natural light from outdoors will make your shot look 100% better than using a table lamp or overhead light, which can give you hard shadows and weird colors."
If your home doesn't get a lot of natural light throughout the day, we recommend investing in a ring light.
Bonus Tip: The way the light will fall on your face is also dependent on the angle from which you film yourself.
"Consider how you place your computer, tablet, or phone for the best angle," Dane says. "A neutral, head-on shot looks more flattering than a shot from a low or high angle."
Foreground & Background
Honestly, improving the look of your video call starts with improving the look of you.
As the foreground of your image, it's important that you present yourself as if you were meeting in person.
Basic hygiene, haircare, and professional attire are still on the table, no matter the distance between you and the office. "Being remote doesn't mean you should be sloppy," says Dane.
Now, onto the background. The more control you have over your space, the better.
Keeping your space interruption-free is vital to ensuring the flow of meeting. We highly recommend keeping all kids and pets in a separate room during your call (despite how adorable and well-behaved they are), as well as locking the door.
"Make sure the room you’re doing the call in is clutter free," Dane also suggests. "At the same time, don’t sit in a room with nothing in it; that would look drab and devoid of life. A well put-together space that reflects your personality is best."
Alright, onto the technical stuff. Working out all the kinks with your software ahead of time is vital.
"If you have a filter that might be distracting, make sure it’s turned off," Dane suggests. "We’ve all seen that video where a woman couldn’t figure out how to turn off a filter that made her look like a potato." No one wants to be the potato lady.
If there's one thing that can mess up the image quality of your call, it's your internet connection. Not only that, but losing your connection in the middle of a meeting is the easiest way to make a bad impression.
"There is nothing worse than dropping in and out of an important virtual call," Dane says. "Make sure to test your internet speed ahead of time, or even consider upgrading."
Part 2: Audio
Whether or not your peers can hear you properly should never be overlooked.
Our Senior Editor, Nick, breaks down how to improve your audio quality through three distinct elements: Input, Output, and Software Settings.
"The main two components of audio in a zoom call are the Input and Output; what you’re saying and what you’re hearing."
In order to make yourself as audible as possible, Nick recommends bringing your microphone closer to your mouth.
"Most default computer mics are low quality and pretty far from your mouth when you're speaking, so they're already working against you," Nick says. "The closer the mic is to you, the more the mic can pick up of you and less of the noisy room around you," says Nick.
Getting a USB mic to plug into your computer is one solution to this issue, given that the default microphone on your computer is already somewhat far away from you.
Now, onto the output.
Headphones are important for video calls because they eliminate any chance of an echo when others are talking.
"If you want to know out two birds with one stone," Nick suggests, "you can get a headset with a microphone on it."
This not only prevents any messy overlap between your input and output, but it also places your microphone directly in front of your mouth, offering your voice complete clarity.
Customizing your software settings will help the quality of your audio in the long run.
"By default, most audio settings are set to Auto in your Preferences Panel," Nick says. "You can fine tune them to better fit your environment."
For example, the Background Noise Suppression Filter is usually set to High by default. However, if you're working from a quiet home office, there's likely not background noise to suppress. As a result, it'll instead reduce the quality of your own dialog.
"Taking a few minutes to go through your default settings and adjusting them based on your environment will make a huge difference in how you present yourself virtually," says Nick.
Whether for remote work, online classes, or even virtual family gatherings, we all want to put our best foot forward in our interactions.
Technology may feel like a barrier for some, but it doesn't have to be. Following this guide will help you feel more confident in the way you present yourself in these new virtual spaces.
We hope this guide will help you feel closer to the people in your life, and them closer to you.