Motivational speaker and trainer, Dr. Rick Brinkman, reveals how to look professional and engaged during virtual meetings.
Meeting by video has become a way of life for the last few months; business meetings, graduations, mother’s groups, association conferences, university online classes, getting together with friends and for myself I have done a couple seminars and keynotes. Many organizations are discovering that, depending on what people do, it is possible for them to work effectively remotely and have announced that some people will continue to do so independent of pandemic prevention.
So, it’s time to look good on video and it’s really simple to do. In this post we’ll look at three things you can do to look marvelous.
Let’s begin with camera position. The most common mistake I have seen in virtual meetings is not considering your camera position. Your camera position will determine how you look to other people. Ideally your camera should be at the same level as your eyes, so that when you look into the lens, people feel like you are looking right at them. If you use a desktop computer adjust your seating to eye level with the camera lens.
When using a laptop many people just leave it on the desk but that will have you are looking down at the lens. So, from the viewer’s perspective it will seem you are looking down at them. Consider that we have an expression, “Looking down your nose” at someone. Not good. Or they can unconsciously feel like a child with parent. And at minimum, looking up your nose is not a flattering perspective of you.
The solution is, get a riser. I use the Griffin Elevator. Another good one is the Twelve-South Hi-Rise. I have no affiliation with these companies other than being a very satisfied customer for many of their products for over a decade. Both are simple to use and easily stored away when you don’t need them. And of course, you can also just pile up some books.
FRAMING: The Rule of Thirds
Perhaps you have heard of the rule of thirds if you do photography or video. It’s simple, you divide the frame vertically into thirds and horizontally into thirds. Many cameras and the iPhone have this feature built in which you can turn on.
The ideal place for the subject, which in this case is you, is at the cross section of a vertical and horizontal third.
Pay attention the next time you watch a movie or television show and you will see how the subject is positioned at the meeting of vertical and horizontal thirds. That’s because your eyes naturally focus there.
Find a good-looking setting. In any video production you have a “set”. The room you choose will have a major impact on how you look. Consider what your viewers see in the background and over your shoulder? You don’t want to have some strange item behind you seeming to be coming out of your head. Having it look like there is depth is a good idea. That gives the viewer a feeling of in-person reality rather than a flat screen.
If you are using Zoom it has an amazing trick, which is to substitute an image for your background. Zooms clearly says, that you should use a green screen and lighting. Although you can do it with nothing, but it looks flaky. Either do it right or choose a place where the background looks good as is. You can get green screens that mount like a screen and pull down, or pull up, or pop-up or the simplest is to pin one to the wall for all of $12. (See the resource page at the end.)
Once you have a green screen you can have any background you want and it will look great. However, for the best-looking depth you should slightly blur the image you use. Zoom has a check box for this in the video background settings, otherwise you can create a blur in any photo editing program.
Last but not least you will want to have some lighting. The ideal is to have two lights directed on either side at 45% but one a little further back than the other, or dimmer if it has a setting. These can be a two desk lights or one light and a window. Usually you want one side of your face a little brighter than the other. If you wear glasses, you have to pay attention to any reflecting of the light. You’ll find by slightly looking down or a small light re-position you can take care of that.
In this picture, the lighting on the left is natural coming from a large window. Maybe it could have used a desk light on the right but there still is enough natural light that it looks good. Also note the angle of the walls in the background which give you a feeling of depth and the subject is perfectly in the left third.
Last but not least it’s best of have everything set up perfectly and ready to go; lights, camera, background, so there is no work for you other than sitting down to have a great meeting and looking marvelous doing it!
I have created a resource page for this blog where I will provide you links for everything in this article, backgrounds, lighting, etc. I get no renumeration, it’s all for your convenience and success.
And for more virtual meeting tips see the blog post: Best Practices for Virtual Meetings