Tips and Tricks – Webcams

Matt CoulterHow to not be the “nostril cam” person in a Zoom meeting (a.k.a. webcam dos and don’ts)

By Matt Coulter

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other web-meeting platforms are now a weekly or for some a daily reality of work during Covid-19.  Here are some simple tips to consider before clicking the button to enable your camera during meetings.

Keep your camera high!

If your camera is eye-level (or even a bit higher) then you will avoid the awkwardness of having your camera (and others in the meeting) look up your nose.  This is often an issue if you’re using a laptop’s built-in camera.  You can minimize this by not actually placing the laptop on your lap but keep it desk height or (if possible) raise it up higher by placing it on a thick book or something else.

Look towards your camera when possible!

If you’re fortunate enough to have a couple of monitors to work from, try to keep your meeting’s main monitor (the one you look at most often) the same as were your camera is located.  Doing this will help improve your eye contact with others in the meeting.  In most cases you will find some light (usually a red light) that turns on when your camera is active.  While it takes a conscious decision to do this, try to look at the web camera lens directly when you’re speaking in the meeting.  Trying to keep this “eye” contact helps everyone feel more engaged during the meeting.

Manage your lighting!

No, we’re not talking about bringing in studio lighting into your office, but simply thinking about where light sources are in your location.  Windows are great, but not when they are behind you!  Keep light sources (windows and lamps) either in front of you or to your side.  When light sources are behind you, they often create a “backlighting” situation which makes you harder so see- sometimes to the point of you becoming a silhouette.

Get centered!

This one is easy.  Most web conference tools like Zoom and Teams give you a preview of what you look like on your camera.  Before the meeting begins, look at yourself and make sure you’re reasonably centered in the frame of the camera.  Can you see yourself well?  No?  Then other people in the meeting can’t either!

Bottom line, we are all struggling to stay connected.  And it’s also true that few of us like seeing ourselves on camera.  But taking a moment to think about these four things will help EVERYONE in the meeting feel more connected!

Don’t be this person:

A few small changes will help you be seen!