How to Look Good on Zoom: What to Wear and Where to Sit

October 5, 2015
Zoom

Summary

We all want to look better on camera. Keep that in mind during your next Zoom meeting.

As hard as it is, try not to think about what your team thinks about your looks.

With that in mind, there’s plenty you can do to appear more professional on Zoom.

So, if you're feeling too shy to speak, at least your setup is DOPE.

Looking good on Zoom comes down to four simple factors:

  1. Dressing appropriately in business casual clothing.
  2. Finding a spot with flattering light.
  3. Positioning your camera for the best angle.
  4. Making sure your background isn’t distracting.

Covid-19 has made video conferencing has made the transition from office to remote work much easier.

But, virtual meetings have their own you’ll need to internalize. It's difficult to figure out how to look good on Zoom if you’re not familiar with camera angles and lighting.

In this article, we’re going to break down all of the steps you can take to appear more professional on a video call. We’ll also show you how to change your Zoom background.

Let’s get right to it!

Why It’s Important to Look Good on Zoom

Looking good on a video call isn’t a vanity metric...but it doesn't hurt! We're not talking about looking like Tom Cruise with Hollywood lighting. But, it is important to appear professional when meeting with your colleagues, even if it’s through a screen.

Putting at least a little bit of effort into how you present yourself portrays a positive image to your teammates. It shows you care about your meetings and aren’t just going through the motions while working from home.

Trust us, we want to stay in PJs all day too.

Tip: getting dressed and combing your hair for a Zoom meeting can have a significant impact on your mood. Any self-esteem boost is welcomed these days!

There are technical aspects of video calls to consider.

Check your lights.

Poor lighting can make it hard to see you, lowering the overall quality of the meeting.

What's going on?

Activity or clutter in the background could cause distractions that derail your conference and lower your team’s productivity.

How to Look Good on Zoom (4 Tips)

Great news!

It doesn’t take all that much work to look good on Zoom.

A few adjustments can make you appear much more put together during your video calls.

1. Dress Business Casual

image via Andrew Rybalko / shutterstock.com

Guess what? Business casual is in fashion.

Put away the suit. No need for that.

Wanna impress? Choose a button-down shirt or blouse.

Too hot or cold? Go for the polos or sweaters. Stick to solid colors and neutrals as much as possible. Loud prints are distracting.

Avoid T-shirts and tank tops unless you work at a cool tech startup.

Honestly, t’s hard to go wrong when it comes to pants and skirts.

However, be safe and wear jeans, even though you’re probably going to be sitting down for your Zoom calls. You never know when you’ll have to get up to grab something.

You don't want to be THAT guys or girl getting caught in your underwear or sweatpants.

2. Follow the Light

image via jehsomwang / shutterstock.com

By now you've realized the following...

Where you sit plays a significant role in how you look on Zoom or in any video.

You need proper lighting if you want other participants to be able to see your face clearly, and to avoid looking like you’re sitting in front of a spotlight.

In order from best to worst for video calls, here are the sources of lighting you can use:

  1. Natural light
  2. Warm indoor lighting
  3. White indoor lighting
  4. The light from your computer screen

Need a cheatsheat?

Daytime: find a nice spot where the natural light hits your face, but, don’t sit with your back to a window. This will result in you becoming backlit, and your team won’t be able to see you.

Nighttime: find a warm reading or standing lamp positioned one to two feet away is perfect. Take a few minutes before meetings to test your camera and experiment with lighting.

3. Position Your Camera for the Best Angle

image via Visual Generation / shutterstock.com

Nobody wants to watch your hairline or chin for the duration of your meeting.

Since you watch video calls on your laptop’s screen, it can be easy to prioritize the angle of your display and overlook that of your web camera.

Remember: nobody wants to stare at your hairline or your chin for the duration of your meeting.

Avoid odd angles. You shouldn’t need to incline your head up or down too much to look directly at your camera.

However, if you’re using a standard table or desk, your laptop likely sits below your head. If you only have to tilt it back slightly, this setup can still work. To play it safe, we recommend lifting up your laptop a bit, so its camera is on eye-level with you. A monitor stand or a few books should do the trick.

If you’re using Zoom on your mobile device, the same general rules apply. Ideally, you want your camera to be eye-level or slightly higher. It can be difficult to hold your smartphone at this angle for extended periods of time, so consider investing in a tripod if you don’t have a laptop with a web camera.

4. Remove Background Distractions

image via Andy Chipus / shutterstock.com

Last but not least, you need to make sure the area behind you during your Zoom call isn’t too distracting.

Use a plain wall (avoid white) or even a subtle piece of artwork makes for the best backdrop.

However, many of us don’t have dedicated spaces we can use to join Zoom meetings with pristine, distraction-free backgrounds.

If that’s the case, here are a few ways you can improve your call’s setting:

  • Clean up any messes, such as piles of laundry, toys, or dishes.
  • Send children and pets to another room to minimize activity and sound in the background of your call.
  • Avoid sitting in front of bookcases or other ‘busy’ backdrops with lots of objects than could be distracting.

Guess what?

Zoom has an awesome feature to create a distraction-free zone in your house.

How to Change Your Zoom Background

As you may know, Zoom enables you to use a premade background during video calls. Even if you’ve never tried Zoom virtual backgrounds, you’ve probably seen them in action in screenshots or videos.

Zoom’s virtual background feature is available for desktop clients and iOS.

For the best results, Zoom recommends you use a green screen. Since most of us don’t have one of those lying around, a clear wall with uniform coloring is a viable alternative.

Change Your Zoom Background on Desktop Clients

To enable the virtual background feature for the desktop app, open Zoom and click on the gear icon at the top right of the screen:

Opening Zoom's general settings.

Then select the Virtual Background tab. Here you’ll be able to see a preview of how you look on camera. Right below your face, you’ll see various default virtual background options:

Switching your Zoom background.

Most of Zoom’s default virtual backgrounds aren’t the best fit for professional meetings. Luckily, you can use any video or image you want as your background, as long as it complies with the platform’s file requirements:

  • Images: Most image types, with a minimum resolution of 1280×720 and an aspect ratio of 16:9.
  • Videos: MP4 or MOV files with a resolution between 480×360 and 1920×1080.

Take your time and experiment with different backgrounds until you find one that’s suitable. Remember that we’re talking about business meetings, so your virtual background should still be subtle and not too distracting.

Change Your Zoom Background on iOS

If you’re using Zoom’s iOS app, you need to join or start a call before you can set a virtual background. Once you’re in, tap on the three-dot icon in the bottom right corner of the screen:

Accessing Zoom's general settings on an iPhone.

This will open the call’s settings. Select the Virtual Background option from the resulting list:

Zoom's mobile virtual background feature.

You’ll then be able to use any of Zoom’s default backgrounds or set your own, as with the desktop client.

Conclusion

Remember, looking good on Zoom comes down to four simple factors:

  1. Dressing appropriately in business casual clothing.
  2. Finding a spot with flattering light.
  3. Positioning your camera for the best angle.
  4. Making sure your background isn’t distracting.

By the way...

If you don't want to bother with all this, we can do it for you. 

Book here.

Chris Viglietta

My name is Chris and I write for Look Good Online.

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