photo of woman in blue shirt smiling at camera while doing online meeting in white room

How to Look Great in Online Video Meetings

Whether you like it or not, online meetings and classes are here to stay. With most of us working from home for a large majority of 2020, online meetings lost their mystery and became routine. Throw on an acceptable shirt (over your pyjama pants, of course), pull your hair back, and position your laptop camera so that the mess in your bedroom can’t be seen. 

While we had to make-do with a difficult situation, the fact is that even though Covid-19 will eventually vanish, online meetings won’t. And soon there will be no excuse for not looking professional in your meetings. If you’re struggling with understanding how exactly to make your virtual meetings or online lessons look professional, we answer all your questions below.

If you’re interested in learning more about hosting meetings or lessons online, read our new article about how to keep your students engaged online

1. Take care of your appearance

Yes, this still matters and the effort you put in will pay off. Before entering online meetings, dress the way you would before an actual, in-person meeting: brush your hair, apply some makeup or shave your beard, put on that pretty pair of earrings. And don’t forget to dress for the part (at least on the top half): wear a professional looking shirt, but remember that a super white or black shirt will mess with the camera.

2. Use the best lighting in your house

Lighting is probably the most important thing you can take away from this article. Bad lighting will make you look tired, gaunt and a lot worse than you actually look. The best lighting is front facing natural light coming from behind the laptop (as if you were sitting facing a window). If natural light isn’t possible, artificial lighting is the next best thing – but always have it pointing at you directly, as lighting coming from the sides – or worse, from behind you – will have the opposite effect that you were hoping for. If you’re really dedicated or just have terrible lighting in your house, there are lots of options for video conference lighting you can buy online. 

photo of man and woman smiling in zoom meeting online

3. Find a suitable background

You want to appear professional in online meetings or classes, and showing a messy room will not help you achieve a look of professionalism. Keep your background as simple as possible, because you want people to focus on you and not get distracted by what’s behind you. Try to find a blank wall or uncluttered room to position yourself in front of (while keeping lighting in mind), or create a dedicated space in your house with a suitable background.

4. Get the camera’s perspective right

Position your laptop or phone at eye level or slightly higher so that you are looking into the camera as you would into a person’s eyes. It’s really unflattering if your camera is positioned below eye level, and gives your audience a birds eye view of your double chins and nostrils. If you don’t have a desk at eye level, put some books under your laptop.

5. Practice to get it right

If you’ve got a job interview or an important meeting, you don’t want to prepare yourself and turn on the camera to find that you made a big mistake. If you’re new to online meetings or you’re trying a new t-shirt or makeup technique, do a trial run first. Turn on your webcam and make sure that your shirt isn’t so bright that it dulls the rest of the screen, or that your new makeup makes you look like a clown. Avoiding a mistake like this will be worth the time it takes to check that you look good beforehand.

photo of business woman in suit sitting next to orange wall holding laptop

Extra tips for smashing those online meetings

  • Sound matters in online meetings. Make sure that your laptop or earphones microphone work well, and go to a place in the house clear of any distracting sounds (having the coffee grinder going in the background won’t work in your favor). 
  • Shut the door to keep out any kids or pets – especially cat owners! Cats can (and probably will) walk all over your keyboard, pressing who knows what buttons. We’ve seen enough funny videos of pets interrupting video calls but you don’t want that to actually happen to you. 
  • Mute yourself when you’re not talking. This is basic online etiquette and makes a huge difference in improving the sound quality of the meeting. 
  • Become familiar with whatever program you’re using (ZoomGoogle Meet etc.) so you don’t hold up the meeting if you get flustered with using it. Whatever you use will undoubtedly have a short video tutorial online, so go and check that out.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I look good in online meetings? 

  • Find a plain wall or simple background that won’t be distracting. If that’s not possible, opt for a virtual background.
  •  Position your laptop near a window or buy professional lighting and position it directly at your face. Dim lighting will create shadows on your face and make you look tired. 

Should I wear makeup in online meetings? 

  • That is up to you and your personal taste. If you normally wear makeup, try a light touch of natural looking makeup to highlight your natural features. 

Is lighting important in online meetings?

  • Yes, lighting is the most important aspect in looking good in online meetings. If you don’t have a natural source of light from a window, set up a lamp on your desk and shine it towards your face. 

How can I appear more professional in online meetings? 

  • Ensure you have good lighting (see above).
  • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person meeting. 
  • Style your hair and put on makeup (if that’s your thing) as you normally would. 
  • Clear your room of any distractions – that includes any animals or children that could interrupt.
  • Practice using Zoom, Google Meets or whatever program you’re using beforehand so you can use it with ease during your meeting. 


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