I’ve seen a lot of posts recently about turning on your video for calls, especially at a time when human connection is so important. I agree!
Below are five zero-expense tips for improving the call quality when you decide to switch on that video button, or the boss mandates it.
Tip #1: Light Your Face
Having sufficient, diffused light on your face will make you look more natural.
The typical home office available light sources, from best to worst, are:
- Face a window during the day. If the sun is shining directly in, draw the blinds or curtain.
- Use a desk lamp with a lampshade, or shine a lamp without a shade at the wall in front of you.
- Overhead lighting.
- Facing a dark wall with a window in the background.
Tip #2: Bathe and Dress
I’m a work from home veteran; my routine has been for the past few years:
- Wake up at 6:15
- Start calls at 6:30
Special times call for special measures, so I’m giving myself more time in the morning to do my hair. Work From Home official video dress code is “Casual But Not Pajamas”.
Tip #3: Raise Your Camera Position
Ideally the camera would be around eye level, but this can be difficult to achieve with most laptops. Some newer laptops put the camera below the screen, making the viewing angle even more harsh. (I’m pretty sure the Dell PC hardware engineers do not attend video calls.)
Some options to improve this are:
- The old stack of books under your PC.
- If you have an external keyboard and mouse, you have additional flexibility in positioning the PC’s camera.
- Sit back a bit further to increase the distance to the screen, which will help the angle of the picture.
- Many apps like Microsoft Teams allow you to join calls multiple times. You can join audio and video from a phone or iPad, and screen sharing via the PC. Mute the mic and speakers on the PC, and remember where the right unmute button is.
Tip #4: Give Us the Kid/Dog/Cat Tax
If someone unexpectedly shows up in the shot, they are allowed to join the video.
Tip #5: None of These Tips Matter
No one cares what you look like, they want to see you and have a shared experience. We’re not competing for a videographer or gaffer of the year award.
Try committing to one week of turning video on for most calls, and see what happens!