So your company manages multi-million dollar film projects but you can’t figure out how to take your preteen’s cat-face filter off before your executive meeting? We get it.

The transition from office to home work-life came so quickly that we barely had time to artfully clutter the bookshelf that sits behind our desk with our copy of the 1992 Webster’s Dictionary, a leather-bound copy of Shakespeare’s Tragedies and the worn edition of War and Peace front-and-centre, and push our comic books, or the third Bridgerton novel, out of sight.

Here at Rightsline, we understand that letting your colleagues, or better yet, the CEO into your home via video conferencing is a little more personal than anyone was hoping to get in 2020 in beyond. 

You want to put your best foot forward but you’re not entirely sure how to do that. But if SNL can film entire episodes via Zoom, then you can absolutely crush your next 3 pm team meeting. And we’ve got a few tips that can help you out.

How to look professional on Zoom

We’re not all DP’s but that doesn’t mean we need to look like amateurs either. Video meetings don’t have to be the online equivalent of getting your driver’s license photo taken, and these seven tips can help you look good on Zoom:

Put the camera at eye level

Unless you’re aiming for the whole evil galactic emperor thing (and we all know how that turned out for Vadar), shots from below are unflattering. In the Zoom world, these shots are less about projecting menacing power and more about giving your co-workers a direct line-of-sight up your nostrils.

To solve this problem, keep your camera at eye level. Depending on the device you’re using, this might mean you need to prop up your laptop and camera. But it’s a small price to pay for the confidence of knowing your colleagues won’t be distracted by counting your nose hairs.

Give yourself space

Moving too close or far from the camera means you’ll likely sacrifice quality. If you’re too close, the rest of the call will end up only seeing your forehead. Too far and you’ll most likely be sacrificing sound quality. Instead, aim for sitting an arm’s length away from the camera. 

When it comes to framing, you’re aiming to focus on getting your head and shoulders in the shot. Your eyes should be in the top third of the frame with your shoulders just above the bottom of the screen. Remember that many devices have a wide-angle lens built-in, which isn’t the most flattering look—so make sure you preview your video before you join the call.

Find the right lighting

The right light can mean the difference between people being able to see your face and you end up looking like a dark blob against a light background. 

The best kind of light to use is natural light from a window. Position yourself to face the window, instead of sitting with your back to it. When you face the window, your face will be lit up by the natural light. If you’re sitting with your back to the window, you’ll likely end up looking like a shadow or face harsh light.

If you don’t have a window available or you’re Zooming at night, you can use small lamps to help with the lighting. It won’t look exactly the same, but aiming for a softer, whiter light as opposed to an incandescent lamp can help. Position small lamps behind your device so the light can properly fill your face.

If you want bonus points, get an inexpensive ring light (like those used in makeup tutorials). These are specifically designed for shooting at-home videos and they can give you a professional look and feel without hitting the pocketbook too hard.

Clear your background

When it comes to choosing the best background for your Zoom call, go with the plainest background you can find—usually, this is a plain wall background or you could use something simple like a (clean and organized) bookshelf. Honestly, no one wants to see your dirty laundry or cluttered kitchen cabinets, so choose carefully!

If you simply can’t get rid of the cluttered, busy backgrounds—a common issue for those of us in smaller apartments with limited wall space—you can opt for a virtual background. This is also great if you’re headed to a meeting where showing off your personality is encouraged. When choosing a virtual background for Zoom, go with the same simplicity rule as your real-life background—a photo of a crowded beach will probably be distracting. 

Sound matters

No one likes to watch a film with crappy sound. 

Some even believe that audio quality is more important than video quality—a project with clear, crisp audio that’s at the right level can still garner positive reviews even if the video quality is subpar. In fact, we see this all the time on streaming platforms where our internet connections struggle to keep up which results in short periods of slightly grainy visuals, but if the sound is good we keep watching.

The same goes for a Zoom meeting. We have no problem having one without a video component (it’s simply a phone call) but if you can’t make out the audio, the whole meeting is kaput. 

If you happen to have an external microphone of any kind—preferably one that you can use without a lot of set-up, then take full advantage of it. Otherwise, just make sure you use a decent set of headphones with a microphone. Try to avoid participating in a meeting with just the built-in sound equipment from your computer.

And, always make sure that you double-check your sound before you jump on the call!

Get some extra help

Zoom has a secret weapon built-in that can help ensure you look better on the screen, their “touch up my appearance” option. You can find this in the Zoom settings by going to video settings and select touch up my appearance. It will then smooth out any obvious blemishes and marks, and adds and extra layer of polish to your appearance.

When it comes to audio quality, a good pair of headphones or an external microphone can only do so much. Krisp is one of our recommended work-from-home apps that can help make life easier. It gives your sound an extra air of professionalism by using AI to remove background noise and echoes from your sound.

Do a check before you start

It goes without saying but you should always double-check both your video and sound before you hop into the meeting. Take 60 seconds beforehand to make sure that your sound is clear and your video looks good, so you don’t spend the first 15-minutes of the meeting figuring everything out.