Where were you a year ago?
January 2020 -- none of us could have ever imagined the year we would have ahead. You probably never thought you would be talking to colleagues, clients, even friends and family on camera.
For many of us, the most dramatic change has probably been a shift from the office to working from home. I started my online training courses in early 2020, after helping my husband with a remote work presentation. He wanted some feedback for an important presentation and while I couldn't help much with his content, I did give him some ideas about camera angles, lighting, background and sound. After his bosses were raving about how good his camera looked, he hired me out to train his entire management team.
I thought there might be some value to others there, but I had no idea just how many people would be working remotely just a few short weeks later.
So when you turn on your camera, do you like what you see? Chances are you are going to be seeing a lot more of yourself on camera in the coming months (years?), so you might as well start looking (and feeling) great about it.
Here are my favorite WFH camera hacks. In my trainings, I always focus on the 3 L's -- a mental checklist you can go through before going live.
I'm talking background. Where are you set up? Just because your laptop is in your kids' playroom, doesn't necessarily mean that's where you need to take that virtual meeting. Get creative. If you have a laptop, you can move it anywhere. If you work on a desktop, a simple angle shift can make a big difference. Find a background that is interesting, but not distracting. A plain white wall makes you look like you are joining a meeting from prison. Create depth, move away from a wall and never put a window behind you... because of the next L- lighting...
Make the best use of natural lighting. Set your camera in front of a window so the natural light lights your face. Backlighting, which is the result of too much light behind you, automatically darkens your face and creates shadows that can make you look tired or sick. Bright natural light on your face can give you that movie-star glow without any fancy lighting. If you are stuck in a basement or window-less room, a simple desk lamp pointed at your face can work in a pinch.
Looks matter. While I don't like to focus on hair or makeup, they can make a difference. The looks I'm referring to mean camera angles. The simplest way to make your camera angle work in your favor is to move your camera up to eye-level. Just because you are at your computer doesn't mean you have to be looking down at it. Move your screen/camera up to eye-level and you instantly lose that double-chin and no one has to look up your nostrils. In addition, your looks do matter. Avoid stripes as they can create movement on some cameras that can be distracting. Find a neckline that works best for you and solid, bold colors work best. Don't blend in with your background!
These are just a few ways you can make your virtual workspace look and feel more professional in the new year.
If you want more tips and tricks, consider signing up for my trainings. I offer an online course, virtual workshops for individuals or entire organizations. Get in touch! I would love to help you be your best self on camera.