Looking Your Best on Zoom

We are increasingly on web cameras as we meet in virtual spaces. There are ways to use lighting and arranging your space to make you look better on camera. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you are able, invest in a good camera and microphone. Here are some suggestions from the HMS IT Department.
  • Put your camera at eye level or above. When you put the camera too low, it will show your chin and mouth but your eyes will be difficult to see and it will look like you are not fully engaged with the meeting. Laptops are great for using your computer on the couch or while relaxing; however, the camera is usually set below your eye level and it is not the ideal placement for your camera during a virtual meeting. Try to sit at a desk if possible.
  • When you're speaking - look at the camera and not at the video of yourself. This will help you look like you are engaged with your audience.
  • Neutral clothing colors like blue, green, black, or grey are best. Avoid wearing patterns with lots of stripes, dots, or other designs. Bright colors like red and orange are distracting and it will distort the way you look on the camera.
  • The area behind you is important. Make sure you have a neutral background free of distractions. For example, a wall, bookcase, couches, or decorative pictures are some ideas that look professional. Try to avoid presenting in front of cluttered or messy rooms, brightly lit backgrounds, and pathways where people and pets are moving back and forth frequently. It is not always possible to control these factors, but try your best to avoid background distractions.
  • Check how you look in the video before you login to the meeting. You might notice something on the camera like reflections on glass behind you, a glare coming in from the window, or you might have something on your face. You can fix these before the meeting because it is awkward to fix these issues during a meeting.
  • There is a Zoom feature where you can touch up your appearance in the settings. Click on the video icon in the bottom of your Zoom window > Video Settings > Check "Touch up my appearance."
  • Remember when your video is on and you are in a meeting. Some presenters, and members of the audience, forget that they are on camera and do embarrassing things.
  • Eye glasses can reflect what is on your screen. If you are attending a meeting and doing online banking or shopping, sometimes you can see other open pages reflected in your glasses, which can be embarrassing.
  • Additional screens, including cell phone screens, can illuminate and darken your face when you open and close pages, which is even more pronounced if you have a darker environment. If you are cycling through different online pages, this will change how bright or dark your face appears in online meetings.


Making Your Own Videos at Home

Screencasts, video tutorials, or similar types of at-home developed videos usually occur in one of these formats:

  • Video screen + audio
  • Video screen + person in the video + audio
  • Audio only
  • Video only + subtitles

Note: Subtitles should be a part of all formats to help increase accessibility for learners with disabilities.

Here are major items that will help you make an at-home screen recording successful:

  • Have an outline of what you are going to say and an outline for learners watching the video. Here is an example of an outline to a webinar that guided the learners through the webinar and the recording for students who could not make the live webinar and listened to the recording.
  • Clean up the screen that you will be using to record. No one wants to see your receipts for take-out, old family photos, or other non-related content. Additionally, check the tabs in your browsers to make sure that the only tabs open are the ones that pertain to your presentation. Moreover, stop any pop-up notifications like Slack, instant messaging, alerts, emails, or other notification service you have on your computer.
  • Keep your content short. Aim for about 8-10 minutes maximum. If you find that you need more time than this, consider using shorter video sub-sections of one topic.
  • Keep talking through mistakes. You can always edit the audio and video later if you have that type of software. If you do not have software to handle video editing, it's ok to make mistakes. You are a human and you probably make mistakes in face-to-face sessions so this is fine.
  • When making a recording of your screen, you do not always have to show your video of you talking on the recording. You can have a video of yourself at the beginning and then move it out as you progress through the information.
  • Test your video and audio before you start officially recording your video. If you are able, invest in a good microphone because this will help greatly increase the quality of your recording.