Five tips for looking better in Zoom meetings

May 12, 2020


There’s a good chance you’ve become a video conferencing ninja by now due to the Covid-19 lockdown. If you’d like to add some polish to your next Zoom video conferencing meeting I have some easy to follow tips for you below.

I’ve listed Zoom, but the tips below can be applied to all video conferencing apps like Skype, FaceTime & Google Hangouts etc.


As a photographer, finding great light is paramount for capturing flattering business portraits. The same principles apply for videos calls. My top recommendation is to set up your device near a window. Sit facing the window for soft, even lighting.

Make sure to choose a window that doesn’t have the sun shining directly onto where you’ve set up. Doing this would make for an uncomfortable meeting with you mainly squinting and sneezing due to the brightness.

If window light isn’t an option, consider repurposing a lamp. Place it just to the side of your device’s camera to remove shadows on your face and reduce image grain.

One final tip for video is to wipe your camera lens before you start. Finger grease always seems to end up over the camera lens. Opening your laptop up or taking a call on your phone can lead to smudges, so it’s worth checking before you start a call.

Video grab showing a example of flat lighting from a window


Trust me; no one wants to see up your nose. This simple fix is to increase the high of your device, so the camera is at eye level.

Check for unflattering angles

Use a stand or stack some books to increase the height of your device. The wide-angle nature of many phone and web cameras doesn’t tend to be very flattering when you sit too close. Move back a little in your chair to remove the distorting nature the lens will have.

Using a box to raise the height of my laptop


Sound can make or break your zoom meeting. I use a wireless headset for my sessions as the microphone is closer to my mouth for clear speech. Any headset, wireless or wired should offer a better audio experience for you and other guests over.

If you’re on a computer or laptop, a USB powered microphone may prove to be a good investment as the sound quality will be better. You can place it closer to you for cleaner audio. If you’re using a phone, most have wired headphones with an inline microphone that works well. Just be mindful not to fiddle with your headphones as you risk knocking the mic, and everyone gets an unpleasant audible thump.

If you’re taking part in a meeting where one person is presenting, consider muting your microphone. The organiser might have already done this, but just in case they haven’t you don’t want to interrupt them with unwanted noise.

As a recent example, an attendee was sitting outside in their garden. Birdsong caused the video to jump back to them rather than the speaker, which disrupted the flow and became distracting. Don’t forget to unmute yourself when you do want to speak.

Use AirPods as a headset


Less is more when it comes to your background. If you have family members at home, let them know beforehand when you’re in your meeting to avoid unwanted visitors. I think we’ve all seen the one BBC clip where the kids came to visit mid-interview. If not, here’s the YouTube link :)

Remove distracting items where possible to create a clean-looking background. Tidy up areas in view if they’re messy.


I know this is going to sound so obvious, but… have a quick check in the mirror before you jump into a call. Messy hair, food stains and five o’clock stubble might not make the best impression to the others on the call. This advice is more for business meetings. I like to wear business casual, but that’s just me. If you’re catching up with family or friends, the “just got out of bed” look is totally acceptable; we are in lockdown, after all.

Bonus Tips

Practice setting up your video call and test features like turning video and your microphone on and off, so you know how to in an actual meeting. Avoid the embarrassment of fumbling around trying to unmute yourself mid-meeting or how to share your screen when it’s your turn to make a presentation.

Check your wifi and internet speed. I’d recommend Speedtest by Ookla as a way to test your internet to give an indication of speed. Zoom has details on the minimum internet speeds required for your meetings to run smoothly.

When everyone’s home, your internet might be taking a bashing with the kids streaming content or other video meetings going on in tandem. If too many devices are concurrently using your internet connection at the same time, you could experience video dropouts or degraded audio. It sounds impossible, but you might need to seriously consider some form of bribery so you can kick the kids off their devices until after your meeting. Good luck!

Are your apps up-to-date? Jumping into a meeting only to discover you need the latest version can be a significant cause of frustration right at the start of your session. Before you start, quickly check you’ve got the later version of your video conferencing app and installing the update if available.

That’s it, I hope you found these tips useful. Let me know your thought’s in the comments or share with others if you found them useful.

Let’s start talking

Alan is a Sussex based portrait and commercial photographer, specialising in newborn, family and headshot photography. Fueled primarily by coffee, he has ninja skills for putting people at ease in front of the camera, creating modern, lifestyle photography for epic portraits you'll love.
Alan Wright


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