Brian McCarthy

Looking good in video conferencing with minimum technology.

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In this 12 min video I talk about 12 things you can do in just 20 seconds before your video conference call to make sure that you look good and you have confident body language while speaking to the camera. I don’t use any fancy setup - I’m just using my laptop and earphones to show you how these 12 easy steps can greatly improve your executive presence on camera.

In the video I look at the following: 

  1. Camera position: at eye level if you can. Raise your laptop or put your phone tablet on a tripod.

  2. Lighting: Sit in front of a window with natural light. Or turn the desk lamps to your face. Two is even better to get lit from both sides.

  3. Microphone: Use earphones with a mic, even better are wireless earphones as the cable isn’t visible and doesn’t get in the way.

  4. Sitting: Sit square on. Frame yourself from the waist up. Don’t lean against the back of the chair, the chair should be touching your back, but not supporting it. If someone pulled the back away you would still stay upright.

  5. Gestures: Move your hands as you speak. Keeping them above the table and try not to hold anything in your hands, this way they are free to move.

  6. Eye contact: The advantage of sitting at a distance where you can be seen from the waist up is that your eye movements won’t be so distracting. When you sit closer, it is easy to see the flitting movement of the eyes. If you are making a presentation by video call, try to deliver it to the camera. It can be hard to speak to a camera so one idea is to stick a photo of a face (a loved one, George Clooney, whatever works for you!) at the back of the laptop peaking above the camera.

  7. Background: Most people have their desk against a wall. Pull it out from the wall and sit with your back to it. Or sit in front of a bookcase, there is nothing like lots of books to make you look like an expert.

  8. Listening: When someone else is speaking you need to show that you are listening. Nod your head, smile. If you are having a conversation with 1-3 people leave your microphone on and use sounds like “mhmm, yes, ahah”. If you are in a meeting with more then 3 people it can be best to mute your microphone when you’re not talking.

  9. Touching your face: Keep your hands away from your face. It is very distracting, especially in a camera shot, to see people touching their face.

  10. Taking notes: If you are teleconferencing from a laptop, take notes with paper and pen. Otherwise the sound of you typing on a keyboard can be very distracting.

  11. Voice: Most of us speak in a perfectly intelligible voice when we are relaxed. However, when we’re nervous (as you might be in a video call), our voice can start to sound weird. This is usually because we are not breathing correctly. Remember to breathe from your stomach. Also, don’t breathe between sentences, take breaths in the middle of sentences.

  12. Clothes: Just because they can’t see your legs doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear pants! What happens if for some reason you can to get up in the middle of the call to get something. You could switch off you video, but all the same, wear pants.