How to Look Great on Zoom

Zoom screen

Zoom isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s become the standard platform for everything virtual. Business meetings, interviews, family gatherings, online gaming… All of it. And I’ll be honest, I’ve set myself up to look pretty darn good in the virtual space. So, of course, the question has been asked more than a handful of times.

“Hey, Chad, how come you look so good on Zoom? What can I do to look better?”

Great question! And a great idea for a blog!

There are things you can do to make sure your video feed looks great on not only Zoom, but all live stream platforms. And you can ask your meeting participants to do these things, too. Let’s start with the basics. These tips are easy and won’t cost a thing.

Avoid bright backlight.

It’s pretty common to see participants with big windows or bright ceiling fixtures behind them. Ask them to move if they can or close the shades and turn off the light. Better yet, have them turn around so the light falls on their face. That brings us to the next tip.

Put light on your face.

Use the window and the ceiling fixture. If those aren’t available, a desk lamp set to one side of the computer’s monitor will do the job nicely.

Raise the camera.

I know this sounds weird, but it’s a real thing. There’s a reason social media celebs take selfies from a high angle. It’s more flattering than the low angle every built-in notebook webcam sees with the screen tilted up slightly so you can loom over it.

Put your notebook on a stack of books or a box of envelops or something. Try to get the camera at just above eye level. Seriously. You’ll thank me. And your background will look better, too.

Look at your background.

Yeah, right now. Turn on your webcam and look at what’s behind you. Your background tells the viewer a lot about you. Do you like what your background is telling them?

I’ve surrounded myself with posters of movie projects I’ve produced. I have some cool looking gear on shelves. I keep the clutter to a minimum (at least where the camera sees). I’ve done two things. I’ve added visual interest to my feed and I’ve said a lot about myself.

I’m not a fan of virtual backgrounds. Sure, they’re fun and kinda cool, but it’s distracting rather than complementary. It also stresses your computer and could actually lower your video quality, especially on low and mid-range notebook PCs. But hey, you do you.

Check your platform’s video settings.

Every virtual meeting platform has video settings. Go into those settings and make sure HD is enabled. This is particularly important on Zoom. By default HD is not enabled which means Zoom is broadcasting a low resolution version of your video feed. They do this to avoid network buffering, so if you have a slow internet connection you may want to leave this off.

Some platforms have resolution controls. Some don’t. For example, Discord does not. A quick web search will tell you what you need to know about your specific platform.

You still look awful. Now what?

So, you’ve done all the things I’ve suggested and you still have blurry pixely video. What now? Well, if that’s the case, it’s usually one of two things.

First, check your internet connection. If you have a slow internet connection, most systems will compensate by lowering the bitrate of your video feed, especially if you’re also receiving a video stream from them.

If your internet connection is fast and stable, you may want to consider upgrading your webcam. Built-in webcams don’t always cut it. A USB webcam can up your game considerably. Shop smart. Replacing a cheat built-in webcam with an equally cheap USB webcam won’t solve your problem. What should you look for in a USB webcam? Well, that’s a whole other blog! Coming Soon….

Want more help?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or have more specific questions, please feel free to contact us. At Third Rail Content, we don’t just make videos. We consult on all kinds of projects, anything and everything that will help you communicate at your best. Contact Us. We’re ready to help.


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