When I worked as a news anchor or even as a professional on-camera spokesperson, I had a whole crew of people who made sure I looked and sounded great. They took care of the lighting, checked for top-notch audio quality, and designed the perfect set.
But when you record yourself on webcam, you are your own crew — but without the professional expertise.
It can be really intimidating to try to troubleshoot all of this, so allow me to give you some of my top tips for elevating what I call your personal production value.
Control the Lighting
When you’re on video, you want to make sure you are well lit from the front. Your viewer needs to see your face so you can create that connection. The most flattering light of all is natural light, so if you can position yourself, facing toward a window, you may find that to be the best bet. But there are some exceptions – you don’t want sunlight streaming in. It’ll be too harsh, and you will likely appear washed out.
Speaking of windows – never, ever sit in front of a window unless you want to appear like you’re in the witness protection program. You will appear in silhouette.
If the weather is not cooperating or if you don’t have a window that’ll work, make sure you put a lamp behind the camera that will illuminate your face.
Overhead lighting will also do you no favors. It’ll cast unwanted shadows that will make you appear tired with dark circles under your eyes.
And never rely upon the light cast by your computer screen. That bluish cast will do a number on your complexion and simply not provide enough wattage to light your face appropriately.
Consider your Background
If you’re working from home, do you really want them to see the dishes piled up in the sink or the piled-up laundry, waiting to be folded?
Your background needs to be clean and uncluttered.
However, you don’t want to go to the other extreme and sit with your back against a blank wall. You’ll look like you’re sitting in a prison cell.
Instead, sit at least four feet away from the wall to give some depth to the shot.
Keep the Lens at Eye Level
If you are shooting your video on your laptop, you may be very tempted to simply keep it on your desk and look down. But this causes a variety of issues. First of all, there’s a really good chance that the lens will be looking right up your nose. Yuck. But it also can cause you to create more chins than you actually have. Plus, looking down on your viewer can feel really condescending.
By contrast, it’s also important that you not look up into the lens. You’ll look like a little kid looking up at a parent – not a position of authority.
Your lens needs to be at eye level in order to mimic an interaction in real life. If you have a separate webcam, put it on a tripod and adjust it accordingly. But if you are using your laptop camera, put it on a stack of books or anything else that will raise it up. Or if you would rather stand, place it on top of a bookshelf so you can still look straight ahead – right into the lens.
The team at Speaker Dynamics can offer even more expertise, including one-on-one coaching to help you elevate your personal production value. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how.