You’ve had fun with Zoom virtual backdrops where your arms were swallowed by the beach. You made excuses about the mess behind you because you’re home schooling the kids. It was all very forgiveable in 2020…..but now it appears working from home is here to stay. Time to get serious and get professional.
Fear not – follow these 5 tips from a veteran like me….
How to Create Better Looking Video From Home
Tip 1: Raise your camera to eye level. It’s disconcerting for the viewer to be looked down on when you have your laptop or camera sitting below your natural eyeline. Use a shoe box or stack of books to adjust the height of your camera. In face to face conversation we don’t loom over people when we talk, we sit at eye level and video should mimic this. Avoid having anything ugly in view; ceiling ducted aircon units, light fittings, light switches, unsightly power points, fire extinguishers, bins and random ceiling cracks!
Tip 2: Avoid having people walk behind you. Sit in front of a wall, nicely arranged bookcase or attractive shelves. When we are on camera, we want to control what our audience is seeing, to avoid distractions and unexpected incidents. I have seen semi-naked spouses walk around, kids tearing through rooms, delivery guys showing up at the door, all when people have been holding client calls, webinars or video conferences. This tip is especially crucial now we are all working from home with our kids and family members.
Tip 3: Dedicate a space as your video set. If you can, zone off an area in your home or office that is where you consistently show up on camera. Having a dedicated space sets the tone for business, that just hanging out on your bed could not do. When I sit in front of my backdrop, my energy changes and I feel ready to conduct business. The same applies when you dedicate a spot for your videos. This tip also minimised anxiety of constantly having to choose where to sit, tidy up or negotiate with family members.
Tip 4: Ensure your background reflects your level of professionalism and the business’ brand identity, as much as possible from home. Businesses are now holding team meetings & client presentations from home; suddenly our private lives are being thrown into view. The visual cues of working together in the office keeps business activities and roles clear and understood. If suddenly you show up to your team meeting with piles of laundry behind you or stack of kids mess, the visual glue that binds the collective experience is lost. Remember, that 94% of communication is non verbal. What we see directly affects how we feel. And how we feel translates into thoughts, actions and attitudes.
Tip 5: You don’t need fancy equipment. Your inbuilt mic and camera on your laptop is fine for these purposes. Lighting is best when it’s natural light flooding from in front of you. Not behind or from the side. Same with lamps – avoid harsh overhead lights or side lamps that cast strong shadows. If you want to invest in lights, go for soft box lights that cost $50 for a pair on Amazon or eBay. Set them at 45 degree angles in front of you to produce an even ambient light. LED light rings are good too, though slightly more expensive.