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How to look good for video chats, web interviews and other virtual meetings

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Even as we’re confined to interacting with the world via tiny cameras, many of us don’t know how to look good onscreen.

“Don’t feel stupid if you don’t know,” says Jaymes Vaughan, Las Vegas-based entertainer and host of Celebrity Page on ReelzChannel. “There’s so much about 2020 that we’re all figuring out, including how to look good on a Zoom meeting. It’s everybody’s first time with this stuff.”

Las Vegas Weekly asked experts for tips on how to look awesome in video chats, whether you’re hoping to ace a job interview or just hanging with old friends.

What to wear

As the workplace has gone virtual, wardrobes have become more casual, according to Tracie Anderson, volunteer development manager for Dress for Success Southern Nevada. The nonprofit provides professional attire and career development for women in need. This year, the organization has provided nearly 400 suitings for local women, despite a long pandemic-caused pause in operations.

Anderson says the typical Zoom wardrobe includes a mix of comfort and style: a basic trouser paired with a “beautiful blouse and a key accessory. You also want to ensure that you’re comfortable,” she says. “The reality is, you’re on Zoom and everyone knows you’re home, so you don’t want to be too restricted.”

Since you’re typically only seen from the torso up, Anderson says to focus on wearing a color that will brighten your face. Similarly, a simple yet professional necklace or earring will help polish your look, as long as it’s not so flamboyant as to be distracting.

As for hair and makeup, Anderson says you don’t need a lot—just enough to ensure you’re looking your best.

Men should dress as if they’re meeting in person, advises Toni Gonzales, a veteran Las Vegas-based television producer. “Your job will also dictate your attire,” she says. A presentation or crucial meeting would be more formal. For most white-collar workers, “a nice button up, no tie or even a crisp polo” are great daily wear, while those who working in more creative fields can typically feel freer to show their personality through their outfits.

No matter your gender, Vaughan suggests solid colors, and avoiding logos. He also warns against small prints, which can appear to “strobe on camera.”

“The best part of it all is that we don’t have to wear pants right now,” Vaughan jokes, before adding a final warning: “If you’re not wearing pants, please don’t stand up on the Zoom call.”

Lighting

“Lighting is essential; it’s incredibly crucial,’ Gonzales says. “When you think about it, Hollywood spends hundreds of millions of dollars just on lighting alone.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to invest a million to look good on camera; simply follow Gonzales’ tips:

• Don’t sit in front of a sunny window, because your face will be in shadow.

• Instead, use the natural light from the window to your advantage by facing the window.

• If you video chat often, it’s worth investing in a circular ring light, which will provide even, flattering lighting for your entire face. They’re available in multiple sizes (including for your phone) and at multiple price points.

• In a pinch, you can repurpose a reflective car sunshade to help bounce more natural light onto your face.

The Right Background

In our new virtual world, we’re suddenly representing ourselves in a tiny square. So make it “as tidy and as personable as you are,” Gonzales recommends.

Choose a quiet, distraction-free area of your house that puts forth an aura of professionalism while also showcasing elements of your personality. “People are going to judge what your screen looks like,” Gonzales says. “Make sure it’s a great representation of you.” So display some of your favorite art, books, plants or collectibles in the background. Just make sure it’s not so cluttered as to be a distraction.

Gonzales also recommends doing a quick pre-meeting sweep of your area to remove any old coffee mugs or other clutter.

Camera Settings

Vaughan has a full home-studio setup, from which he recently hosted a major red carpet. “If I can host the Billboard Music Awards official red carpet from Zoom, then anybody can look good on Zoom, if you just know how to do it,” Vaughan says.

Vaughan suggests adjusting your video chat settings so you can look your best. For example, some Zoom apps allow you to correct your exposure to make up for low-light situations.

He also recommends using the “touch up your appearance” button judiciously. Think of it like the plastic surgery rule: You don’t want people to look at your face and see the nips and tucks. “If you slide [the filter] up too far, you look like one of those people who got mashed potato faces on Instagram that do way too much smoothing,” Vaughan says.

Camera Angles

Double chin alert! Perhaps we’ve all learned this from the era of selfies, but you don’t want your camera to film from below your face. The No. 1 rule is to make sure the camera is even with your face—or slightly above to hide double chins. Vaughan uses a simple tripod laptop mount (purchased online) to achieve the correct angle, but he says a barstool and a stack of books can achieve the same result.

How to act

It’s easy to get distracted during a video meeting, so focus is more important than ever. “Ensure that you are looking at the camera on your device, because that is going to make you come across as if you’re giving eye contact with the person on the other end of that screen,” Anderson says, sharing what she advises Dress for Success clients.

She also suggests making sure your body language and posture are professional, because “on a device screen, everything is amplified.”

If there’s a home distraction—like a crying baby, barking dog or ringing doorbell—Anderson says to acknowledge the event, act natural and move on. Don’t try to pretend it didn’t happen.

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