Video Conferencing Etiquette – 5 Ways to Prove Yourself on Screen!

How Do You Appear to Others on a Video Conference?

Zoom meeting shown on a laptop
Photo: Chris-Montgomery, Unsplash

Don’t ever underestimate this!
You are always being judged!

Telecommunications has skyrocketed since the coronavirus pandemic. The medical field is one area, but corporate distance meetings exploded within the last year as well.

Let’s look at a common scenario and let us know if this has happened to you?

It’s a summer day and you are working from home because of COVID. In the morning you get an email that the company VP is having a Zoom meeting at 2:00 PM with a potential client and he would like you to join in on the conference.

At 1:55, you stop your exercise routine and join the meeting on your cell phone. You answer questions and even purpose some new ideas that they didn’t think of. When the meeting is over, you leave the conference and sit back with a smile that you are going to get kudus because of your excellent ideas and participation.

At 2:15, the phone rings. There it is. The call you’ve been waiting for. Maybe you will be getting a promotion? 

“Joe,” the VP says. You respond with the typical “Yes” and with a smile. “Thank you for coming on the call today, but I have to tell you, the client was a bit disappointed. They had some comments about your appearance.” “What?” you say. “Why would anyone care about my appearance?” you say to yourself. The answer is – they do. 

Man video conferencing
Photo by Tarun Savvy on Unsplash

Joe was taking the liberty of home living and carried this liberty right to the video conference, ugly t-shirt and all.

If you think this is not typical, you are wrong. In fact, this particular scenario is a true story and there are many others just like this one.

How Should You Dress on a Zoom Call?

You don’t need to wear a suit; however, don’t rule it out, but generally, just wear a nice shirt or top that compliments your look and make sure you take that COVID mask off. You don’t have to prove to anyone that you are following COVID protocol. The rest is common sense. 

So dressing appropriately is one factor, but there are others. Let’s take a look at these other factors that will make you look your best! 

Make Sure Your Camera and Lighting are Set Up Correctly

Silhouette of a person in front of a windwo
Photo by Alex McCarthy on Unsplash

How many times have you been on a video call and have seen people look like a silhouette?

To avoid looking like a shadow, follow these recommendations. 

Test Your Set Up First

Take a seat. Position your device (computer, laptop, tablet, etc.) so that the camera is facing you. Locate the app that allows you to see yourself on the display screen. Do you look too dark, too light or are there other uninviting circumstances? If so, adjust! 

Ensure That the Light Faces at You and is Not Behind You

Make sure that there is no large light source behind you, like a window or bright light. Instead, add a light that faces you. Depending upon the type of light you use will show you for better or worse.

Portrait of a woman in the sun
Harsh light can produce ugly shadows. Photo by Taylor Knox on Unsplash

You could get a lamp with a standard incandescent bulb, but to really look good, purchase an LED Ring Light or a photographic softbox. These lights bring out the best in you by diffusing the light source, resulting in a soft illumination and not that harsh glow on your face like the sun does on a beach.

Harsh lighting intensifies dark shadows and makes you look like a Holloween mask instead of your beautiful self. Contrarily, a soft light can work wonders, even if it is natural light, such as in front of a window. Just make sure that the sun isn’t shining directly on your face. A cloudy or hazy day is best for this type of lighting.

Woman in front of a soft light box
Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

Your face should not be too light or too dark and there should be no shadows on your face. A soft light such as this softbox (left) diffuses the light which avoids harsh shadows and is used by professional photographers. This particular unit is expensive, but you get the picture (pun intended!). Finally and importantly, position the camera so that it is level with your eyes. 

Think of it that light can determine your mood. To look dramatic, some shadow on the face would be a good thing, but not on a business video conference. That’s for sure. When your lighting is finally set up, if you’re lucky, you might look like your favorite Hollywood movie star.

What Did You Say? Is Your Audio Connection Correct?

If you hear your peers saying “What” and “I can’t hear you”, check your settings. One of the most common mistakes that people do is forget to unmute themselves. If that is not the problem, ensure that your computer audio is set up correctly.

The other way is to make a call on your phone instead, using the phone number and access code they give you for your meeting.

4. What’s Behind You?

Whatever it is, those in the conference will see it, so take down that political poster or picture of the latest swimsuit winner that’s pasted on your back wall. Also, remove any items that make your background look cluttered.

Cluttered Garage
Does your background look like this? Photo by todd kent on Unsplash

A clean background reduces distractions and looks more professional.

Photos of your beautiful family are a nice touch, but even better, use the app in the video chat software that allows you to place an animated background behind you. Zoom has one called the Virtual Background.

5. Smile for the Camera!

Don’t look at the ceiling while you are on the call. Don’t look at your dog either. Remember, they see everything you are doing! If you are looking away, it shows you are bored. If you are looking at the screen, it shows that you are interested. Keep it that way and smile when appropriate.

Tip: Throw in a joke (appropriately of course). Humor makes everyone feel more comfortable, breaks the monotony of the call and makes you appear more popular! Triple win! You can’t lose with this one.

For managing and hosting a Zoom meeting, as well as additional tips, take a look at this video:

Bottom line:

You are on a video call, so act the same as if you were in front of a live audience. People are watching you when you least expect. Promote yourself at your best and finally, keep smiling for the camera!