Easy Tips for Looking Better & Feeling More Confident on Video Calls

Easy Tips for Looking Better & Feeling More Confident on Video Calls

by Andrea Pacini May 10, 2020

Now that video meetings have become the new norm and have been used to host everything from birthday parties and board calls to graduations and weddings, I suspect they will be much more commonly used moving forward.

By day I work as spokesperson for major construction projects and oftentimes have to give on-camera interviews. Even though it’s part of my job, I don’t love being on camera so I totally understand and feel the pain when it comes to this subject. Why does everything look so distorted and unflattering? 

I’m notorious for keeping my camera off during video calls. But for the instances where you need to have your camera on, here are some practical tips to help combat the anxiety that can come with being on camera. Making just a few simple tweaks will allow you to be more in control of your video chat environment and can make a world of difference in your comfort level.

Above all else - let’s first talk LIGHTING!! Good lighting can make or break any shot.

Dos and Don’ts of lighting:

  • Do utilize natural light when possible
  • Don’t use fluorescent light
  • Do position yourself in front of a window so that the light is coming in directly on your face
  • Don’t light yourself from overhead, underneath or the side

Pro tip: If the outside lighting isn’t great – maybe it’s overcast or you have a call at night, you can position a light ring or lamp behind your computer so that it's shining on your face. This flattering wash of illumination will blur harsh shadows and lines, make your eyes sparkle and create a healthy glow as opposed to the fuzzy gray pallor that basic computer cameras impart.

Next up – ANGLES! As anyone who’s caught a glimpse of themselves accidentally when their phone has been in selfie mode knows, getting caught at the wrong angle can be pretty horrifying. But fear no longer, by controlling the angle, you can control your appearance.

Dos and Don’ts of Angles:

  • Don’t leave your computer on your desk or table and hope for the best.
  • Do raise it up! Looking down at your computer is not flattering for anyone – up the nose shots, triple chins, and weird shadows are the perfect combination of disastrous conditions. The solution? Raise your computer so that it sits at eye-level or higher; I prop mine on a stack of books. Before your next important call, experiment with the angle that works best for you so you know exactly how many books you need to get your most flattering angle.
  • Pro tip: If you’re on your phone, same rules apply. Instead of looking down at your screen, position it at eye level or higher. There are lots of inexpensive tripod options available (I have this one) that will allow you to go hands-free and provide more flattering angle options.

Can you hear me now? Let’s talk SOUND QUALITY!

  • Don’t rely on your factory computer microphone to give you crystal clear results.
  • Do use after-market headphones to ensure you’re being heard clearly and accurately. Quite simply, the sound quality is so noticeably improved with headphones - even just the basic ones that come with your phone, that it would be silly not to use them.
  • Pro tip: Wireless options like this or this will ensure you're being clearly heard and will allow more freedom and flexibility to move while on the call.

Giving coworkers, clients and bosses a peek into your home can be downright awkward and anxiety-provoking to say the least, don’t give them anything to talk about. Mind your SURROUNDINGS.

  • Don’t set up your video call in a high traffic or high decibel level area of your home or office.
  • Do make sure nothing bizarre or distracting is going to be in the shot. This includes screaming children, fighting children, spouses walking by or working out, naked people, giant messes, piles of clothes and anything else you would be mortified for a client or boss to see. If possible, try to position your set-up so that you have some dimension behind you, i.e. not right up against a wall.
  • Pro tip: Make sure everyone in your household or office knows that you’ll be on a video call and they cannot disturb you, this may take various levels of bribery and threat on your part so don’t be afraid to get creative! A hotel-style Do Not Disturb Sign works well or for an extra layer of protection - this magnetic police-style tape is fun.

And last but not least, let’s talk APPEARANCE. Even if working from home, showing up to a video call in workout clothes, messy hair or pajamas is probably going to be generally frowned upon. The good thing about virtual meetings is that it's much easier to fake looking pulled together.

  • Don’t wear pj’s, bathing suits, tank tops or ratty t-shirts, no matter how beloved.
  • Do look like you’ve put in a bit of effort with some basic makeup and neat hair - bonus: you only have to do the front of it!
  • Pro tip: Wearing a fun pair of earrings or a necklace is an easy way to add visual interest to your appearance. Scarves also work well for this and can hide a multitude of sins.
  • Bonus: Zoom has a filter option designed to soften and smooth skin. Go to "settings" then "video" and click "touch up my appearance."

 Have you been doing a ton of video calls lately?

What's your favorite platform? What tricks have you picked up to feel more confident on video calls?

Andrea Pacini
Andrea Pacini


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