Zoom ready

On top of all the existing style hang-ups you may have, we now need to be ready and willing to jump on a ‘quick’ video call at a moment’s notice. If this is adding to your corona-stress, fear not. I can help!

In the last 7 weeks, I’ve used more video tech than I ever knew existed, from House Party to almost daily Zoom calls, I’m learning which angles and which tech are least demoralising. I’ve also just discovered that Zoom has a ‘touch up my appearance’ setting. I have yet to discover whether I already have this switched on (in which case this is as good as it gets for me), or whether I can iron out some of the lines when I find the setting! If you watch my online style classes, you could soon see a new and improved Helen!!

With or without the enhanced setting, there are lots of things you can do yourself to enhance your appearance and confidence on video.

Here are my top 10 tips for being camera ready in an instant.

1. Lighting is more important than you’ll ever know. If you want to be seen, the most flattering light is to be facing a window. Move around your house to see how that works for you.
If you are feeling rough or forgot to get dressed, sitting with a window behind you will make you almost invisible.

2. If you are using video calling for business, it might be worth investing in portable lighting. I have a small clip ring-light that I can attach to my iphone and a larger light on a stand for more important filming/calls.

3. Don’t forget the backdrop. Again, if you are using video calling for business, this is REALLY important. Firstly, you don’t want the distraction of people trying to work out what that ‘thing’ is on your bookshelves – you want them focussed on YOU. Secondly you still want to appear professional and on brand. Think about what that means for you and if needed, clear the clutter and set up your work-station at a different angle.

4. If your video calling is for personal use only, make yourself aware of the best spots in the house for reception, natural light and lack of laundry drying or things you’d rather your friends and family didn’t see.

5. Where is the door? I’m no feng shui expert but I do follow the principles in my office. I’ve moved my desk so that I can see the door. I understand that this is better for energy and prosperity (take a look at the brilliant Maria Green’s website if you’d like more specific tips) but also, I no longer have the worry of a member of the family wandering in in a half-dressed state mid-call. They may still wander in but will immediately see that I’m talking to my screen and disappear before any damage is done. (I have a ‘do not disturb’ notice on my door at times but it seems it’s invisible to at least one member of my family.)

6. Talk to the camera lens, not your face or theirs. It feels natural to talk to a person on video whilst looking into their eyes but for them it feels like you are talking to someone else. Try to look at the camera lens instead. This is the equivalent of eye contact and is way more personable and engaging.

7. I’ve always been someone who gets up and gets ready for the day. It doesn’t take me long – I don’t often wear a FULL face of make-up but I choose to always do something to make me feel ready for the day and whatever that may bring. That way, if I’m suddenly called onto a video call, I’m not thrown into a panic. If I have an important work call scheduled, or if I’m running a training, I’ll take time to look and feel more polished. What I’m trying to say here is do what makes you feel good. Don’t feel that you are bad or lazy if you choose not to wear make-up. If you feel good bare-faced, then it’s very likely that that’s your best look. Not everyone suits make-up. If it makes you feel better to make a little bit of an effort, do it in the morning so that you are ready for anything. Facing yourself on camera in a bad light can leave you feeling dreadful for the whole day, so a few minutes getting ready might save you a lot of negative self-talk!

8. If you are going to wear at least a bit of make-up, it’s a good idea to keep a lipstick/powder and small mirror in your desk drawer for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

9. The most important part of your outfit is what you wear on top. Having said that, if you are wearing a lovely top with your pj bottoms and have to get up to answer the door or let the dog in/out, you’ll share your secret with your caller. Maybe this is ok? Maybe its not. Only you know!

10. Choose 3-5 tops that you know work well on camera. Sometimes block colour is better than busy print. Some colours will do lovely things to your skin-tone and others make you look half dead. Try on a selection and snap a photo. Notice which are most flattering and use them on rotation for your work calls. Then, if you are someone that chooses to work in their jim jams, you know exactly what to reach for just before your call. After colour, think about necklines. For some, an ‘open’ neckline is most flattering, it can elongate your neck and draw attention to your face. For others a higher neckline works better. Snap some photos and make your choices.

I hope these tips help you and make you feel more positive and a little less self-conscious on your next video call.

Do you have a funny conference call story? I’d love to hear it, leave me a comment below and give us all a laugh!

The best I’ve heard so far is from my business mentor. She was running a busy group call when a participant stripped off and got in the bath! If you think you’ve got the camera switched off, triple check!!

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