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If you’re like most firms, the conference room in your office is meticulously planned.

Your firm hired a prestigious interior design firm to select the perfect table, chairs, carpeting, decor, and lighting.

They hired an IT firm to install the audio/video equipment and make sure it looks fantastic.

But now we spend considerable amounts of time working from home.

And almost all of us look like we’re prisoners trapped in a basement. Not like the professionals we are.

This hurts the personal brands of your team, and your firm's credibility.

In this guide, we'll explore the 5 common mistakes nearly everyone makes with their setup, and share practical tips to fix them. If you implement these recommendations, we guarantee you’ll look more polished on screen and communicate more confidence to current & potential clients. Get ready to step up your Zoom game!

Mistake #1 - Poor Camera Quality

One of the most glaring mistakes people make is using a low-quality webcam. Grainy, pixelated video can leave you looking less than professional, and it can be difficult for others to focus on what you're saying. To avoid this, consider the following:

Upgrade your webcam:

Invest in a 4K webcam or even a DSLR camera to vastly improve your video quality. These higher-quality cameras will capture more detail, resulting in a crisper and more professional image.

Adjust your camera settings:

Learn how to tweak your camera settings, such as exposure, white balance, and focal length, to achieve the best possible image. This will help you look more polished and in control of your environment.

DSLR cameras universally have a high degree of customization since their primary users are photographers and cinematographers. But we’ve found there are some specific settings that will maximize picture quality with your video call setup.

Clean your camera lens:

A simple, often overlooked tip is to regularly clean your camera lens. A smudge-free lens will ensure a clear and sharp image during your video calls.

Mistake #2 - Poor Sound

Sound quality is just as important as video quality, and poor sound can make your video calls frustrating for all involved. Most people use the standard microphone either with their computer or their webcam. But this can make you sound like you’re talking in a tunnel.

To optimize your audio setup, follow these tips:

Invest in a quality microphone:

Consider purchasing a condenser microphone, shotgun mic, or lavalier mic to capture clearer and more consistent audio.

The right microphone depends on your setup and your goals - we’ve reviewed every major microphone model and can provide tailored recommendations.

Minimize background noise:

Choose a quiet location for your calls and consider soundproofing your space with soft furnishings, such as curtains or rugs, to dampen any unwanted noise.

Mistake #3 - Poor Lighting

Cinematographers know lighting is crucial for setting the mood and creating a visually appealing image.

Poor lighting can leave you looking washed out or shrouded in shadows. Here's how to achieve professional-looking lighting for your video calls:

Implement a three-point lighting setup.

For the best results, use a key light, fill light, and backlight.

The key light should be the main source of light, placed at a 45-degree angle from your face.

The fill light should be placed on the opposite side to soften any harsh shadows.

The backlight should be placed behind you to create depth and separate you from your background.

If this sounds overkill, you can get away with a two-light setup or even one, and can compensate with a natural light source (just make sure it’s not behind you, or you’ll look washed out on camera.)

We provide customers with detailed recommendations on three point lighting setups that have minimal footprints in your space and make you look incredible.

Leverage practical lighting.

Practical lights are lights that are placed behind you and are in the field of view of your camera. These can create visual interest and provide additional separation between your body and the background.

Experiment with light temperature.

Different light temperatures can have a significant impact on your video call's overall look. For a warm, inviting atmosphere, opt for a light temperature between 2700K and 3000K. For a more neutral, professional look, choose a temperature between 4000K and 4500K.

Mistake #4 - Poor Camera Placement

Cinematographers understand the importance of proper framing and composition. Similarly, your webcam placement can affect how you appear on camera. Keep these tips in mind for the perfect shot.

Position your camera at eye level.

Placing your webcam too high or too low can result in unflattering angles. Position your camera at eye level or slightly above for the most natural and professional look.

Maintain a comfortable distance.

To avoid appearing too close or too far away, position yourself at a comfortable distance from the camera. Ideally, your head and shoulders should be visible in the frame, with a small amount of space above your head.

Keep your eyes in the top third of the frame.

To engage with your audience effectively, make sure your eyes are in the top third of the frame. This will create a more natural and pleasing composition.

Mistake #5 - Poor Background Design

Most people pay way too little attention to what’s behind them. But your colleagues and clients are looking, and making silent, often subconscious judgments, about your plain white wall or overly cluttered bookshelf.

Cinematographers pay close attention to the elements in the frame and how they impact the overall visual story. Here are some tips for designing an attractive and professional background.

Choose a neutral backdrop.

Opt for a wall color that contrasts with your skin tone and clothing but isn't too busy or distracting. Neutral colors, such as dark grays, often work well.

Create balance and visual interest.

Arrange your background elements in a balanced and visually appealing way. This could include a mix of furniture, art, decorative objects, and plants. Avoid overcrowding your background or making it too busy.

Curate your bookshelf.

If you have a bookshelf in your background, select books that reflect your professional interests and personality. A well-curated bookshelf can serve as a conversation starter and subtly communicate your expertise and values.

Improve your Zoom setup today.

By applying these techniques to your Zoom setup, you'll ensure that you always look and sound your best during video calls.

Investing in quality equipment, paying attention to lighting and composition, and creating a professional background will go a long way in enhancing your virtual presence.