By now you've zoomed in with everyone: the guy who looks like an unmade bed and never looks at the camera. "Backlight person" who thinks you can see their amazing back yard but all you see is their dark silhouette against the blinding light coming in through the window. The potential influencer staring straight into her webcam, pushing her chin out and lightly stroking her shoulders until she's ready for her close-up. The bald man (whose head you know like the back of your hand), who unfortunately never looks into the camera. The person "check out my awesome green screen background". And of course the motion sickness-inducing “selfie rover”.
Here are some simple things you can do to look and sound good in a Zoom meeting, so that another time you should be behaving in an online meeting.
Place your laptop on a stack of books or on a shelf so that the webcam lens is centered on your forehead. You want to look slightly at the camera. This is tricky when you have to work on your laptop during your online meetings. This is the main reason to consider an external webcam.
If there is a window, introduce it and let nature do your lighting. If you can position yourself so that you are at a 45 degree angle to the window, you will look even better. Ceiling lights are not your friends. Turn them off. Or remove the lightbulbs just above your head.
Night or no window? That's OK. Place a lamp in front of you at 45 degrees to the right or left. If you look too yellow, get a "cooler" lightbulb that is 5,600K or more. Do you look too blue Get a "warmer" lightbulb of around 2,700 to 3,300K. Any number of lighting solutions are available. My wife is constantly moving her laptop around our apartment. I got her a $ 50 cube lighting kit with a suction cup. It was a game changer for them.
If you're using a green screen, having a single light source directly in front of you and slightly above you (directly above the camera) is the fastest and easiest way to help your software cut a usable key. That's one geek who says, "Separate yourself properly from the background so you can overlay the virtual background of your choice." If you have enough space, place the green screen far enough behind you so that your shadow falls on the floor, not the green screen. This is a balancing act between the incidence of light and the green screen. Get an app called Green Screener if you want to become a top notch green screen user.
In-home video studio
In a perfect world, you would set up your online meeting room with classic three-point lighting. If you have the time, money, and space, consider a key light, fill in light and backlight. Just google this classic lighting technology. These are "best practices".
Computer microphone and speaker
The microphone and speakers in your laptop are tools of last resort. If you need to use them, you already know that you need to be in a quiet room, preferably laid out with enough clutter to keep echo to a minimum.
Headphones and earphones
For most people, good noise-canceling headphones are a great investment. Gaming headphones are designed for streaming, but high-end earbuds like Apple's AirPods Pro or Samsung's Galaxy Buds Live work well. I'm also a fan of good old-fashioned wired earbuds. It's a personal choice. All that matters is that they sound good to you.