The pandemic and Work From Home (WFH) mean that all of us find ourselves communicating over screens more than we ever did before. The following tips are listed in order of ease of implementation, meaning the first tip is for everyone, and the later tips require more effort and/or investment.
- If you are using the webcam built into your laptop or desktop screen, position your device on a box or other stable support so you are looking straight at your screen/ camera, not down at it. None of us looks our best when the camera is staring up our nostrils.
- Face a bright light source, such as a window or table lamp. The light in your face is much preferred to sitting with your back to the light. When the light is behind you it washes out the camera and makes it hard for others to see you. A nice light in front of you lets you show up at your best. The first two are relatively easy for anyone to implement, these next few will require more work.
- Get a LED video light and stand to provide consistent flattering light anytime of the day. Very helpful if you live in places where you may not see a sunny day for days on end. The options are numerous and range in price from $20 to several hundred. The larger the panel, the softer the light will be. One with the ability to adjust the color of the light can be helpful to fine tune your appearance. I have a pair of Compact Fluorescent soft boxes that I bought years ago on Amazon, and they work okay, but without the ability to adjust the color output they are far from ideal.
- Upgrade your camera. Older laptops have fairly low quality built-in cameras, but there are several affordable options available. Check the App Store for your make of cell phone and look for an app that allows your phones camera to function as a webcam. I use an iPhone and tried Epoc Camera. When I first got it, I was using an iPhone XR and I was never successful getting it to work. Recently I moved to the iPhone 12Pro and for grins I tried Epoc to see if it would work. It performed flawlessly on the first try and every time since. If you go this route you will want a small table top tripod that is capable of holding your phone horizontally. This week I downloaded the Nikon web utility that allows me to use my Nikon D5 as a web camera. It is pretty straight forward and provides an awesome image. Similar apps are available for most brands of cameras.
- Lastly, an external microphone is a nice upgrade. I haven’t pulled the trigger on this yet, so I don’t have any first hand advice, but there are basically two options. A usb based stand alone microphone, or a headset with attached microphone. I am personally leaning toward the stand alone mic, the idea of wearing a headset for hours does not appeal to me.
If you have questions, feel free to reach out and I will do what I can to point you toward more information.