How to Make Your Video Calls Look and Sound Better

 wired.com  08/02/2020 11:00:00   Whitson Gordon

If youre using a phone or laptop, theres a good chance your camera is horribly positioned for video conferencing. You want your camera at eye level, facing you head-onso stack your laptop on a couple of books if you need to elevate it. Frame yourself to show your head and shoulders, says Rosen, and make sure the top of your head is at the top of the frame. You dont want your colleagues to have a Killroy-style nose-and-eyes only view of your face. If your computers built-in camera is low quality, a USB model may help you get a better-looking image, too.

If youre using a phone, you have a few extra considerations. Make sure its in a horizontal orientation, since thats better suited to the computer screens your colleagues are probably using. And try to rest it on a standagain, at eye levelrather than holding it, so you dont have shaky video. If youre giving a presentation and have notes written down, try to stick those bullet points by your camera, so you arent constantly looking down at your desk.

Look the Part

Photograph: Whitson Gordon

Finally, while it isnt a tech tip specifically, Rosen stresses the importance of your own appearance and body language. Wear clothes you know you look good in, and that arent the same color as your backgroundyou dont want to blend in, which is remarkably easy in a compressed video feed sent over the internet. In addition, avoid busy, repeating patternslike thin stripes or small plaidthat tend to moir on camera. And for heavens sake, wash your facedont let the sweat from your workout turn you into a shiny mess. (If you have naturally oily skin like I do, Rosen recommends patting yourself down with a little anti-shine powderno matter your gender. In my experience, blotting yourself with kleenex will do in a pinch, too.)

Remember youre on camera, Rosen says. Smile, pay attention, dont look all around the room. Think about where you place your camera, and where people are walking by. He recounts a recent video call where a participants family member walked by in their underwear, mortifying the caller and ruining the meeting. When something goes wrongand it will eventuallytry to go with the flow. Laugh it off, and dont let it throw your game.

Good Audio Is Crucial

If theres one thing I took away from my college video production class, its this: People will watch crappy video, but they wont listen to crappy audio. This can be especially challenging with video calls, since you cant hear how you sound on the other end.

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