What resources will help me overcome webcam jitters?
April 5, 2020 4:03 PM   Subscribe

What resources will help me overcome webcam jitters?

Avoiding web conferencing is holding me back in my career. I get therapy can help with overcoming anxiety itself. But what sorts of resources are there for looking good on screen, managing my clothes, lighting, make-up, hair, etc? I feel like I need a step-by-step resource, not a random set of search results. I can't let this hold me back. I have a very small, not ideal, part of my home in front of a messy closet, and I can't set up a backdrop yet and my computer is too old for a background, so I know that's a big part of it. I'm juggling this solo with kids and other stressors. But I really think I need some sort of methodical way to finetune things, starting with trying to look as good on camera as I can, with the caveat that we're self-isolating and delivery services are back-ordered by weeks. If there is some sort of support group or class to this, I'm open to it. Thanks!
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My top three are camera angle, lighting, and sound quality.

Most of us look best on web cam of the camera is at eye level or slightly above. I have a few books under my laptop to get this angle.

Soft indirect lighting will give you definition, but not stark shadows. I use a desk lamp pointed at the white wall behind my setup. If your walls or ceiling aren’t white, you can try bouncing it off a white sheet or towel.on sunny days, I don’t have to do much in my space.

Sound quality is my pet peeve. Your computer tries to cancel the sound it puts out, but most people sound the best if they use headphones so the computer doesn’t have to deal with potential feedback.

As far as wardrobe, hair, and makeup, that’s out of my expertise. I style as if I was going in to the office if I’m on an important web conference.
posted by advicepig at 4:14 PM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have a very improvised green screen where I tied a rope between the closet and a clamp on my bookshelf and threw a solid color bedsheet over it. It works fine for Zoom virtual background on my older computer as long as it’s not the same color as anything I’m wearing.
posted by advicepig at 4:16 PM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't know of a specific reference, but a few great tips I've seen heard over the past few weeks:
* Dress and make-up as you would for any business occasion
* Set the camera at eye level, even if that means putting your laptop on a stack of books or similar.
* Have a comfortable chair to sit in while facing the camera, sit up straight (as an in person meeting)
* Have light sources in front of you, not behind you. especially avoid windows behind you. Ideally your background should be plain and static. It is better to hang a sheet to create this condition than to have partners/kids/pets or other distractions behind you.
* Practice looking at the camera when speaking, rather than at your notes, hands, etc.
* In most settings it is okay to turn off the camera if you need to step away
* Many service have a way to see the camera view and test audio before you join. Take the time to do this well ahead

Largely it is a matter of getting used to it. Many of us aren't fond of how we look on camera, but if you take these steps and then persevere, all will work out.
posted by meinvt at 4:17 PM on April 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I asked a similar question a couple weeks ago and I'm happy to report that after basically 3 weeks of extensive WFH exposure and just doing it, I feel 10x more at ease now.

That said - your question a little different. You cant do the Zoom background, but can you move the angle of your computer or camera so that it's facing a wall thats directly behind you? The room can be a disaster but as long as there's a clean patch of wall or closed door no one will never know! You dont need to be in the frame directly if it helps, a partial side view is perfectly acceptable as well. Or can you hang a sheet in front of the messy closet so it looks like a curtain?

I also have my laptop raised just above eye level a little ways back so that I'm not feeling like I'm a huge part of the picture.

For makeup, I am seriously the wrong person to ask about this, but I have huge, dark under eye circles that to me look way worse on camera. I've made this a bit better by amping up and lightening the shade of the coverup under the eye - i'd never go out in public like that, but on camera it's fine. I'd youtube around for makeup tips for being on camera if that's important to you. Also a bit of clear tape or vaseline on the camera will add some blur to the image and hide imperfections.

In respect to clothes, I'm pretty sure there's not a single person in my office who is regularly wearing pants these days. Shorts and sweats have taken over...
posted by cgg at 4:28 PM on April 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Do you have clear lip balm or Vaseline? Moisturize your lips. Then take a tiny bit on your finger and wipe it across the lens of your webcam.
posted by phunniemee at 4:35 PM on April 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Zoom has a video setting to improve your on camera appearance.

Also just practice helps. Learn what lighting, angles, and hair styles you like best before going live. More light is better. Youtubers use super bright ringlights in front of them for a reason.
posted by ananci at 4:41 PM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is the midpoint of a 7 min. youtube video. It is the part where they talk about some ways to improve video meetings & posting & classwork: adjust lighting, mic, computer lens height.
posted by gudrun at 4:44 PM on April 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Turn off your own image for your session. Let other people see you, but who needs the extra self-judgement?
posted by j_curiouser at 5:22 PM on April 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I just watched this helpful video that covers some practical tips for taking control of your appearance on camera.
posted by neushoorn at 11:16 PM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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