Perfect your Video image !
The age of video face to face communication is well established, but it has now the way we shall conduct many more business & personal meetings. Face 2 Face, Google Hangout, Skype, Zoom and many other platforms are now used everyday for communication, networking & meetings.
If you are wanting to provide a good impression to the person or audience you are communicating with, then you may wish to consider these recommendations.
The laptop or phone you use is open to the elements and fingerprints, carefully use a fresh plain quality tissue or clean lens cloth & gently wipe over the lens, soft focus hazy images looked ok in the 70’s but not now. The quality of lens and equipment varies, but current laptops & smart phones are remarkable with the quality & resolution they deliver, but they have to be looked after.
Eye to Eye
In meetings we usually look at people eye to eye, from a distance of may be a couple of metres away, unless we are in close conversation and then we maybe a metre away & we are face to face, ideally at a similar level. This is a natural way to communicate and see someone you are talking to, however your laptop is on a desk under your face, and the person on the other side of the video link is looking up at you, a totally unnatural position and not flattering to you.
Elevate your laptop or phone to eye level or ideally a little higher, use a stand or tripod, but even a box will produce the elevation that you need. A remote keyboard and mouse will help, but for your important meeting, it's worth the effort and in today's world, it is worth a permanent solution.
Would you have a conversation with someone you have never met before less than a metre away?
We have evolved to have our own space, letting people come too close is uncomfortable and even threatening, it's the same on-line, it is also very unflattering, a portrait photographer would ideally photograph you from a distance of 2 metres away at least, the further the person is away from the viewer the more pleasing the face is, because you see it without distortion from your perspective. Trust me on this, not even George Clooney looks great 50 cm away from your face.
Light your face
As a portrait photographer I believe I am qualified to advise on this critical area, it may be difficult because your computer or phone is what you want to see, but please do not have a window or light behind you, try to have a soft light source lighting you from behind the laptop or phone, ideally it shall be a soft light, a big window without direct sun or a Lamp that is shining on a wall, the more diffused and larger the light the better. If it's above your eye line it will not reflect in glasses and give a forgiving light that compliments you. OK guys, perhaps you can have something a bit moodier, have a light to the side, but try to keep the lighting large and not direct, diffused.
Lighting for Video Communication
There are many products that are designed to light you , many are great and if this is something you are going to do a lot then certainly invest is a light source, consider the ease of set up and use, a ring light for a phone, is harsh and maybe distracting — it is certainly hard to see the screen when it's shining into your face, a directional LED strong light shone on a neutral wall or just a white towel can be a wonderful light source . An angle poise light is great as you can easily adjust, but shone it on to the wall ,not directly at you.
It’s Behind You
You are working from home and you live in a home not a studio, so what is behind you is real, however, is it appropriate to show your family snaps, your choice of decor or your collection of 1950s memorabilia ? Interesting as they maybe, it is probably worth considering what the viewer sees, a picture frame sticking out of your head is not a good look, try to keep the area behind you as neutral as possible, if you do have a massive wall of books, try to ensure that the volumes behind you are tidy and ordered, otherwise the viewer shall be distracted and want to come and rearrange them?
You looking at Me?
One mistake we easily make, especially when on a multiscreen meeting, it when you are talking , you are looking at the people in the meeting, but remember in real life we look directly at the audience, we may scan a crowd, but one to one, we look face to face, the face of the audience is the camera lens on the top of the laptop or phone, not below. Try to look at the camera lens when talking, it will be appreciated and if only on a subconscious level you will communicate with more conviction and earn trust.
Fix your laptop, iPad or phone in the elevated position and don’t move it unless it is absolutely necessary , even when you are part of a zoom meeting of 20, its annoying. If you are moving and talking, and wish to show something to the viewer, do it slowly, you don’t want to give the person a headache or whiplash.
The sound of your voice and its volume are critical, remember we had telephone calls in the old days and we never saw anything, it is still as important, so master the use of mute buttons, use a microphone like your phone one or get the computer audio set up well, headphones and a mike are acceptable and may in-fact show your professional communication skills in a good light.
With such systems as Zoom, you have an opportunity to have your logo and brand displayed, keep it simple, you may be just a small frame within 20 faces, so don’t overload your frame with too much information or product , just use a logo.
Clothes , banners , props, it's about your personality, Think what message the audience are getting, are you professional or an entertainer ? Are you serious or easy to get along with, the way you present yourself will communicate that by your expression, your voice, and a significant amount of the Visual Communication you present to the world.
Think! Do you want to communicate Your Trade? Your Profession? Or which tribe do you belong to ?
You only have one opportunity to make a first impression, make sure it's a great one.
Lorentz Gullachsen. MA VisComm,
Photographer, Producer, Educator
AoP accredited since 1988