The difference between a good video call and a great video call is not as big as you might think. It all comes down to your camera, lighting, and audio.
When you master these three elements, you can look better and be more confident in your next video conference.
Here are the tips, tricks, and apps you need for success.
Look at the Camera
One of the best things you can do on a Zoom call is to look at the camera. This is easier than it sounds. After all, humans are used to looking into the eyes of other humans when they are talking.
However, on a video call, if you are looking square boxes of people in front of you, then you are almost always looking down. And this looks like you are not paying attention.
Looking at the camera is especially important if you use an external monitor because that can exaggerate the problem even more.
So, try moving the participant window around so it is underneath your webcam. If there is one main speaker, click and drag their thumbnail to position it at the top of your screen next to the webcam.
Another great tip is to raise your camera to eye level. Most people look down at their laptop webcams, and this is not always a great look. If you can, raise your laptop up on some books or on a laptop stand, you can use a wireless keyboard and mouse to navigate.
Get a Better Camera
Unfortunately, laptop webcams are not great. Many tops out at 720p, and most are grainy in low light. That’s why a lot of people consider an external webcam for better quality.
I use the Anker PowerConf C200 2K Webcam, and it works pretty well. Sometimes it hunts for focus, but overall it is a nice webcam that has a lot of customization options in the included software.
Get Camera Ready
It’s always a good idea to look at what will be in the background of your video call before you join. Try to remove distracting items like clothes on the floor and other unwanted messes.
The Hand Mirror app for Mac is great for this. It lives in your menu bar and lets you quickly check what your camera view is like before you join that call. You can check your hair, peer at your background, and adjust your webcam angle.
Hand Mirror is a free app, with in-app purchases to enable the additional features in Hand Mirror Plus. The paid version is included with Setapp subscriptions.
Video conference apps like Zoom and Teams also have some built-in settings you can try like the infamous Touch Up My Appearance option. This adds a skin-friendly soft focus filter that is designed to enhance your camera view.
Think About the Light
Whenever possible, don’t sit with a window behind you. It messes with the exposure on your webcam and makes you look like a ghostly silhouette against a blown-out white background.
Instead, turn your computer or desk to have the window facing you. This gives you natural light on your face and is more flattering for most people.
If you don’t have any windows to give you the light you need, consider a ring light. These handy LED lights help eliminate shadows and give even lighting in most conditions. The Logitech Litra is another great option.
You should also check your video settings on the conference app you are using. Most have the option to digitally enhance the lighting on your webcam for a better image.
Use an External Microphone
Just like built-in webcams, a built-in mic will not be as good as an external mic. Instead, use a USB headset or something more interesting like a Snowball or Blue Yeti. Your audio quality will be significantly better for your audience if you have a decent microphone.
But, as good as modern microphones are, you will want to try and choose a relatively quiet location for your call. Smaller rooms with soft furnishings will help reduce echo, and if you can stay away from loud noises like window air conditioners, so much better.
Minimize Background Noise
If you find that you end up in a coffee shop or somewhere less than ideal for a video call, software like Krisp can do wonders to eliminate background noise using artificial intelligence.
And, if you want to know more about how well your call went, try Speeko. It will track your voice and speech patterns in real time and give you feedback about your pace, tone, word choice, and talk time.
Speeko is available for Mac and iOS. The free version is available to help you try some of this out, but annual subscriptions ($60 per year) are required for premium features. Speeko is also available on Setapp.
Show Up On Time
Ok, this seems obvious, but starting a video conference often takes more time than you think. And, when you are running late, you need to know about the fastest ways to join.
To add insult to injury, most video conferencing apps seem to be programmed to install an update when you are running late. These updates have to be installed before you can join. What’s the deal with that?!
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the Meeter app for Mac. It lives in the menu bar and lets you see all your upcoming meetings with just a click. It also shows how much time you have before your next call.
If you upgrade to the Pro plan, you can even click a meeting to start the call in Zoom or Teams. Meeter Pro is also available on Setapp.
If that’s not enough to get you there on time, try In Your Face. This handy utility connects with your calendar and gives you full-screen notifications for your next event.
Browser pop-ups are fine, but sometimes get lost in tabs. In Your Face makes sure that there is no way you will miss this meeting. Get it for free in the Mac App Store, or download it as part of a Setapp subscription.
With these simple, yet powerful, pointers on camera usage, lighting, and audio, you’re now ready to ace any video conference.
Remember, practice makes perfect — so don’t forget to keep experimenting until you find what works best for you. Stay confident, stay engaged, and remember to have fun.