Work meetings, virtual happy hours, conferences, interviews, and events. If you can think of it, we’ve probably done them all via video calls. Don’t make it weird. Even now, you’re trying to look good on Zoom.
In this article, we’re rounding up everything we’ve learned about dapper digital interaction. We’ll cover the computer/call setup, what to wear, grooming tips, and how your camera is making you think you don’t like the way you look.
The Perfect Zoom Call Set Up
Both Lighting and Camera/Computer Placement are two basic considerations when assembling your setup for the Zoom call.
Whether you’re using natural light or artificial light, ensure the source is positioned behind your computer screen and shining towards you. That way, your face is illuminated. Your camera captures clear, crisp detail and not some creepy, fuzzy, shadow version of yourself.
If natural light (like a large window) is all you’ve got, make sure your desk is positioned in front of it. Then, orient yourself facing the window so you take full advantage of the light.
If it’s later in the evening, or you live in a windowless place (which would be a shame) pick a light source. You can use a lamp you already own or snag a ring light. Again, make sure the source is placed behind your computer screen, facing you. That’ll help you look your best.
Side note: ring lights come in all different sizes. Pro quality ones go for just under $100 on Amazon, but you can also snag some smaller ones that snap to your computer screen or phone case if you don’t have much space.
Where you place your camera/computer matters. It’s the difference between having a jawline and one lone column from your neck to your chin. Pro tip: the former will help you look much better.
The basic rule here is to sit below the camera. If you can, set the camera/computer at eye level or even slightly above. That will help create the defined face shape, chiseled jaw, and make you look more like yourself.
If the computer is positioned slightly below you, you can still make it work. Sit tall and roll your shoulders back to elongate your spine.
Next, try to keep a minimum of an arm’s length between you and your camera. Typically, if you are using your phone or computer, you’re most likely video chatting using a wide angle camera. The closer you get to a wide angle camera, though, the wider and more exaggerated your features become. That’s when you stop looking like yourself.
However, do make sure you’re close enough your voice can be picked up by microphones on the device.
External Zoom Call Hardware
Speaking of add-ons, there are a few you can consider if you want to spice up your Zoom call quality.
If you have a DSLR or other nicer digital camera, you can tether it to your computer to improve the way you look on camera. A better quality lens gives you a better quality look.
You can also rig up your phone and use the back end cameras instead of the front facing camera. Typically, the cameras on the back of your phone are equipped with better lenses that should improve the way you appear on camera as well.
As we mentioned before, you may also consider an external microphone if your computer is just not doing it. We’ve all been in the call where someone is talking and ten other people are telling them we can’t hear them. Don’t be that guy.
If you don’t have any of this equipment, don’t sweat it too much. We only recommend these if you already have them or if that part of your phone/camera/computer isn’t working. Getting your lighting and computer/camera positioning dialed in will improve the way you look on your Zoom call tenfold.
What to Wear on Your Zoom Call to Look Your Best
With lighting and setup taken care of, let’s talk about what you’re going to wear on that next Zoom call.
Dress for the Zoom Occasion
When in doubt, stick to situationally appropriate attire. What do we mean by that? Well, keep the same dress code as if this meeting was taking place in person or at the office.
Keep in mind who you’ll be speaking with and what kind of meeting you’re logging into. A part of looking your best on a Zoom call is knowing what kind of call it is and dressing accordingly.
If you’re still unsure, opt for a business casual outfit. Wearing a sport coat or blazer with a button down shirt will always work. Plus, then you can take the coat off if needed.
Keep the accessories you would normally wear. Wear your watch, bracelets, and rings if that’s what you would usually do.
Please do put on pants. Part of looking good on camera is not giving your Zoom audience a face full of underwear when you stand up and forget you’re not wearing any pants.
Getting dressed for a Zoom call will not only make you look better on camera, but also help you mentally prepare for the call.
Colors to Avoid on Your Call
Fortunately, there isn’t one dastardly color to avoid. Instead, contrast is what you want to keep in mind.
Blending into the background of your video call is going to mess with the visual proportions on your viewers’ end. So, try to find contrasting colors to those in your background. If you’ve got white or light grey walls, perhaps skip the crisp white dress shirt.
For more information on coordinating colors, be sure to check out our Advanced Color Coordination for Men article.
Keep Your Zoom Call Outfit Simple
Since all we have to look it at is the screen, your best bet is to keep your video chat outfit simple. You’ll look great on the call if you’re not offering anything too distracting.
Think about solid colors or larger format prints. Stay away from shiny and complicated detail, embroidery or graphics. Keep your audience focused on you and how good you look on your own – thanks to these tips.
Grooming Tips to Look Good on Video Calls
Hopefully this goes without saying, but wash your face before your Zoom meeting. More specifically, stick to your grooming routine.
Keeping that routine intact not only helps you look your best and professional on video calls, but will also help you feel refreshed and more confident beforehand. If you have non-stop Zoom meetings all day, think about adding some self care or skin care time to refresh yourself and your face between calls.
Style Your Hair for Your Zoom Call
Don’t forget to do your hair. Again, however you normally do it is fine. But, if you are looking to improve the way you look on the call, style it to keep the hair out of your face.
If you have the light and computer setup, outfit on point, then get the hair out of your eyes. Let us see your face.
Should you Wear Makeup on a Video Call?
This is of course a personal decision, but as more men have spent time on video calls, more men are also turning to cosmetic and skin care products to give themselves their best Zoom face. Check out this article for more.
The fact is, as we spend more time looking at ourselves in cameras and mirrors, it inevitably forces us to want to look better in those reflections. Now, Zoom face doesn’t have to mean you want to stand out, but you can bring the best version of yourself forward.
If you’re looking to experiment with some products now that you’re working from home and can avoid the fear of trying it at the office, we recommend starting with a simple routine. Think cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen to get your skin looking its best. Drink plenty of water throughout the day as well.
If you’re dealing with a few blemishes or razor burn and want to cover up before a Zoom call, since you’re trying to look your best after all, consider investing in a spot concealer tool. This lets your cover up quickly with minimal product and maximum effect. I’ve been using the Concealer Tool from Stryx.
Why You Don’t Always Like the Way You Look on Zoom
The fact is, you may not always love the way you look on a call. It doesn’t mean you don’t look good. This article from Forge likens it to hating the sound of your voice on a phone call.
However, there are a couple of reasons this occurs. It’s not your fault.
We mentioned this earlier, but remember, you are most likely using a wide angle camera as the default on your device. And if you are sitting too close or the lighting isn’t quite right or your computer isn’t set up like we recommended, the wide angle will tend to distort some of your features.
That’s why you think you look worse on camera and sometimes don’t recognize yourself. The distance from the camera we talked about is important and will help you here.
Additionally, a front facing wide angle camera also typically gives you a mirror version of yourself. That’s not what we’re used to seeing.
That tends to mess with your own perception of yourself and thus makes you think you look worse on camera because you’re not used to that reflection version of yourself. As in, the mole on your right cheek might look like it’s on your left.
Now if it’s messing with you, you can turn on video mirroring in Zoom video settings to help avoid this kind of stress, and ultimately look better on the call.
Pro tip: don’t spend all your time staring at yourself in the video call. If all of your focus is on the tiny square of your reflection, you’ll end up looking worse. We can see where your eyes are darting too
How To Look Great On A Video Call: Tips From Ask Andy Community Members
From Charles F.
- I would add background as a key element in projecting the right image. A messy bookshelf, family pictures and polarizing signs should never be part of your image. If you do not have a nice real background, pick an audience-appropriate virtual one.
- Avoid overly bright lights to minimize imperfections. Lighting should be diffused and arranged to avoid shadows as well as reflections/glare of glasses. Natural lighting is best if possible.
- The camera angle should not include the inside of your nose. The camera should be near what you are viewing on the screen so that you do not appear disconnected from the conversation.
- Use a directional microphone to minimize background noise. Avoid headphones if possible to create a natural appearance especially when using virtual backgrounds.
- You should wear what you would normally wear for the audience if the meeting was in person. Slouchy is as disrespectful in virtual meetings as it is in the office.
- Use muted tones. Overly bright colors should be avoided; especially when using directed lighting. The focus should be on your face; not the color of your shirt.
- Today’s HD+ cameras show everything, so grooming is essential. Groom as though you are on a first date or job interview.
- Make-up should be used sparingly if at all; concealers being one exception.
To recap: looking your best on Zoom and/or video calls is all about your workstation setup, simple and appropriate outfits, and sticking to your grooming routine.
Remember, the camera you use might even be playing a few tricks on you. Don’t spend too much time worrying about how you look if you’re following these tips!
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