How to look your best in video chats


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One of the great advantages of telecommuting is that you don’t having to worry about dressing for success. You can attend meetings in pajamas, sport some Don Johnson stubble or the latest ironic mustache, and type while reclined on a sofa with a cat warming your feet.

But now video conferencing is having a moment, and like it or not, how you present yourself on video is just as important as how you do it in person. Here are a few tips to make sure you come across like the professional you are in video meetings. And if you crop it right, they’ll never know you’re not wearing pants.

Have good lighting: Most built-in computer cameras and third-party web cams are low-resolution with small sensors. They’re not optimized for low-light or other tricky lighting situations, so you have to be conscious of where your light is coming from. Make sure you have front lighting and never stand directly in front of a source of light. If the light is only behind you, the camera will expose for that and you will appear as a mysterious silhouette like Hitchcock.

If you really want to go for gold, bounce a direct light (like a desk lamp) off of a nearby white surface and make sure it hits your face at a slight angle.

Above: Back lighting is bad (left), front lighting at a slight angle is good (right).

Sound like you look: There are a multiple problems with depending on your computer’s built-in microphone. If you are working while you meet, the mic will pic up the sound of you banging away on your keyboard. You might also find yourself leaning in to be heard, getting entirely too close to the camera and looking a tad silly and distorted. Your best bet is an external microphone — ideally a collar mic that can be discreetly clipped to your shirt.

Don’t wear loud clothes: You don’t necessarily have to wear corporate clothing, but dress just as you would if you were going to meet people in an office: clean, crisp, and conservative. But looking good on video is more than just wearing nice clothes, you also need to stick to simple solids and muted colors. Garish Cosby sweaters or loud patterns (pictured left) will confuse the camera’s color balance and distract the viewer.

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