By Katrina Blowers – Seven News Presenter, Speaker and Confidence Mentor
These strange new times are prompting us to pivot in so many ways. #WFH means needing to appear on webcam, Zoom or Skype with your colleagues or clients or even front up via video interview on mainstream media.
If your camera-ready skills are limited in this area, don’t worry – I’ve got your back. Here are ten tips for how to look poised, polished and like a pro so you can attack this brave new virtual world with confidence.
1) LOOK AT THE CAMERA
– Not at the picture of you or at the notifications popping up on your computer. If you need to look elsewhere – like on your computer or your notes, that’s fine. Just make sure every so often you look back up at the camera. Make sure you check in with your audience from time to time by looking at the black dot at the top of your laptop or phone, so your audience feels like they are experiencing good eye contact with you.
2) MAKE SURE THE CAMERA ON YOUR PHONE OR LAPTOP IS AT EYE LEVEL
– So you are not looking too far down or too far up. Neither of these angles is flattering for you. You can use books, or even an upside-down mixing bowl to achieve this.
-The aim here is to frame yourself so you are in the centre of the frame and in shot from the mid chest up. Allow some head room, too – that is, a bit of space above your head and around your body. You don’t want to fill up the screen with your face, neither do you want to have too much space around you so you can see your whole room. Look at the news and see how they frame people they interview. IF YOU ARE FILMING ON A PHONE – put the phone on its side… so it’s landscape rather than a portrait shot.
4) CHECK WHAT’S IN THE BACKGROUND
– If you’re in a hotel, please avoid having the bed, luggage, or clothes behind you. If you are at home, try for a plain wall, or a nice plant off to the side. Be aware of plants or vases positioned as though they look like they’re growing out the top of your head. Whatever is in your background will be very distracting for your viewer. You want them focusing on YOU not what’s on your walls or the basket of laundry on your dining table. Canva also has some free graphic backgrounds compatible with Zoom to add some extra pizzazz to your video chats.
5) HAVE AWARENESS OF YOUR HEADPHONES
– See if it’s possible to tuck the headphone cord behind your ear. Avoid having a dangling cord in front of your face. This will also prevent you from hitting your headphone or microphone cord if you are gesturing. That noise is going to come through and may prevent your audience from hearing something crucial. Use air pods if you have them.
6) BE MINDFUL OF LIGHTING
-Take advantage of daylight and position your camera so the light is shining ON your face. But be mindful of this. If there is too much direct sunlight you can look washed out. Try to avoid having a light directly behind or overhead to avoid a halo effect. If you are filming in the dark, you will look like a ghost with the light coming from your screen. Consider buying a ring light – Luvo Store does some great ones.
7) IMAGINE YOUR AUDIENCE
– Miranda Kerr’s publicist once told me the supermodel always imagines she’s looking at someone she loves when she stares down the camera lens. While it’s probably not appropriate to get that gooey, you’ll definitely be a lot warmer and livelier if you imagine your ideal customer/viewer/someone who’s a cheerleader for you is sitting inside the computer or your phone while you’re talking. Imagining a real person really helps you connect while you talk.
8) RELAX YOUR FACE
-You know that face we make – all scrunched up forehead and pursed lips – when we accidentally hit the reverse camera button on our phones? We don’t want to look like that when we’re presenting. SO, make sure you give yourself enough time to work through any technical glitches. Take three deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth before you begin. SMILE just before you go live. It makes your cells light up and relaxes all the muscles in your face. Even if you’re delivering bad news… you should still aim to look calm, confident and in control.
9) GROOM LIKE A TV PRESENTER
– avoid patterns, fussy clothing, necklaces and dangly earrings. Studies show just ten per cent of our audience’s attention is on what we are actually saying. The other 90 is on how we look, what we’re wearing, the background, our hand gestures etc. Try to minimise these distractions by dressing simply and professionally in a plain but calming colour. Think blues, greens and navy. Black and red can be harsh on camera. Avoid shiny fabrics. Avoid stripes and small checks– they have a tendency to strobe.
Wear a slightly darker foundation but please blend it down your jawline and neck. Powder more than you normally would in your T zone – the camera shows up a lot more shine than in real life. A shiny forehead or chin is distracting and makes you look clammy and nervous. Give dimension to your face by defining your brows and popping a bit of blush on. Stay neutral with lip colour. Tame any flyaway hairs on the top of your head with some hairspray, they tend to show up more on camera too and can be distracting.
10) MAKE TIME TO CHECK YOURSELF
-position yourself five minutes early so you can see how you look on camera. Zoom has a face softening filter that can give you more polish. Go to settings within zoom or google how to do it.