7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

Many teachers have been virtual teaching via Zoom for a while now. We still get a little anxious seeing our own faces on camera all day, even in the sacred name of educating the future of our country. Fortunately, we’ve got some tips to help you look (and thus feel) your best on video. The right lighting, background, and a few other key tips you can look more awake, refreshed, and excited at your next Zoom meeting or Facetime call.

Even if you aren’t virtual teaching, you are probably finding video to be a necessary part of your new normal, from visiting your aunt virtually across the country, to keeping up with your side hustle.

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How to look your best on video:

#1 Check that angle

7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

We are all used to taking selfies from slightly above our heads, because we’ve all had a few “up the chin” photos that just don’t look like ourselves.. We’ve watched students take tons of selfies in class, too. But somehow, once we plop the laptop on the desk, we become less aware of how the computer angle makes us look. To avoid this, raise your computer to eye level, ensuring it lines up with the top of your head, not below it. This will draw the students’ gaze up towards your eyes and hair, rather than looking up your nose – every teacher’s worst nightmare.

#2  Invest in better lighting

7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

Make sure there is a strong light source in front of you, not behind you or to the side. This will keep your face well-lit. The lighting should also be soft or natural when possible, and less like the harsh overhead lights you probably have at school. Ring lights have become more popular for their ability to adequately front-light your face, and come in full-sized and desktop options, as well as some even having the ability to clip on your computer itself. A DIY option is simply a bright table lamp, or turning to face a window in your room to ensure your students can really see you.

#3 Face the action

7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

If you have the luxury of a second monitor, you know how amazing it can be. But that comes at a cost for someone Zooming with you, particularly for students used to looking at your face and eyes. If the side of your head is always turned towards a second monitor, computer, or other devices, it can impact both how you look and the quality of your interactions. It can also feel impersonal for students to not have that eye contact. A quick solution is to temporarily move the laptop in front of the computer monitor, setting the second monitor a bit higher than the laptop. You can also open documents directly on the laptop that you will be referencing during the lesson, and save the second monitor for other reference materials.

#4 Back it up!

too close to camera vs right distance

Is your computer right next to your face, because you are typing notes during a lesson? Consider a second keyboard that allows you to set your laptop back a bit, and potentially on a raised stand, without sacrificing your ability to type during a call. Getting too close to the camera can have you staring at that one pesky imperfection during your call, whereas a few inches back nobody would even notice.

#5 Lose the hoodie

7 Simple and Clever Tips video calls

Work from home has serious perks, namely that you don’t have to wear “real” teacher clothes like previous years. However, consider what your top looks like, just around the neck area. If you are wearing anything resembling a hoodie, your professional dresscode plummets, but you could easily accomplish the same comfort level with a hoodless sweater, or a tank top and cardigan. These simple swaps will elevate your style while maintaining comfort and coziness.

#6 Pick easy makeup that pops

7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

The fact that you are out of bed, fed, caffeinated, and ready to teach in a pandemic is more than enough, let alone putting on makeup or doing your hair. Looking your best on video doesn’t require makeup, but if you are someone who loves it, consider two key products: an eye-popping/defining item, and a great lip color. These two are all you need to look awake and ready to roll on camera. The eye definer, such as mascara or an eyeliner, better defines your eyes so kids can truly see you well, and the lip project adds some color to what can otherwise seem like a grey, bleak picture through the camera. So feel free to skip the other stuff (or shoot, skip it all), or focus on just these two to simplify your routine.

#7 Simplify your background, or add one talking piece

7 Simple and Clever Tips for Looking Your Best on Video

Remember students staring off into space in your classroom, reading posters and checking out your decorations? They are easily distracted, and the same applies to Zoom. By now you’ve come to realize that what’s behind a person on a call may be as important as how they themselves look. Nothing in your background should command more attention than you. That being said, a great conversation starter behind you, that doesn’t detract from their attention the whole call, breaks the ice at the beginning of an awkward call. Consider a large plant, a single piece of simple artwork, or a bookshelf display without any majorly distracting items. You don’t have to sit in front of a plain wall, but minimize distractions as much as possible.

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Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost is a freelance journalist and high school publications teacher in Cincinnati, OH. She's worked with other publications such as Glamour, Women's Health, Reader's Digest, and more. She has three young sons under age four and has been teaching high school for ten years. She encourages her students to develop communication skills, independence, and a passion for writing in their authentic writers' voices. To connect or read more of her work please her website or follow her on social media: Twitter Instagram Linked In.

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