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Every day I look at the image my webcam captures on my Zoom calls and I think to myself, “How did I possibly get to look like this? Is this really me?”
Being quarantined with four kids under six years old, working life has become a daily fight for survival that culminates on Friday night with a nice glass of Zinfandel. But extreme parental stress is no excuse to look bad on a Zoom call! The other day I sat down and gave serious thought to how I could improve my appearance on Zoom.
Here they are – my five tips, all which begin with the letter “P.”
The wrong camera angle will make you look like a completely different (and worse-looking) person. When I have the wrong camera angle, I cannot help but notice that a few unfavorable features tend to become accentuated. We’ve all got ‘em (you can guess what they are).
Prior to going live, take a few minutes to do a test of each of the major places where you would shoot a video. Reposition the camera different ways and record a test clip. Then evaluate the three best positions, and mark them down with tape and note the logistics so you can replicate them easily.
Make sure that you are centered correctly on the screen and that you are looking up slightly. Being level with the camera is okay, but gazing down into the camera can make features look “droopy.” By the way, don’t stare at the webcam dot at the top of the screen; it has an odd effect on the viewer.
Many people ask me the ideal length for a YouTube video. Most advisors can’t come up with any interesting to say. Keep it short and put us all out of our misery.
However, if you do come up with something other than the normal ho-hum mumbo gumbo, videos of five minutes or longer garner higher overall watch time and may help you rank higher in the YouTube algorithm. But you have to get people to stay and watch.
Position also matters for social media videos, by the way. To engage viewers in longer videos, position changes should happen every few minutes. This is a subtle way of re-engaging the audience.
You don’t have to get all gussied up every time you go on a call. We’re not Jennifer Lopez. Who has time for that? When I’m tired (and I often am) I draw attention away from my eyes by attracting attention to the perimeter of my face.
I take care of hair issues by wearing a hat (see this video with my fabulous Yay hat). I may also wear eye-catching earrings. I even took a risk and dyed my hair purple! Let me know what you think by commenting on this YouTube video I made about it.
Perimeter also goes for chins. To you who are sporting the five o’clock shadow at 10 AM – when in doubt, shave!
3. Poised body language
Body language is a big determinant of attractiveness. What is your resting facial expression? Do you grimace when someone says something off kilter? Analyze what your facial movements look like to other people.
The less you can touch your face, the better. Scratching your head, biting your nails, or touching your ears, eyes, or nose are a distraction – and they may gross people out.
4. Planned lighting
Advisors get obsessed about buying the correct lighting equipment to use. What if I told you that the best option is natural light? If you can, record mid-day. Find the best time during the day when you can take advantage of the natural light available to you.
If you must record early morning or late afternoon/evening, use what is called a ring light. When using artificial lighting, make sure to adjust position for shadows that may appear on your face.
Lighting strategy is important. If you are going to record multiple takes of the same video or recording multiple videos, remember that sunlight may change with each hour that passes.
5. Positive personality
Confidence is a great beautifier. You can have the worst hair day, the worst lighting, the worst camera angle, but with the right personality people will still be engaged by your Zoom presentation.
Especially in such challenging times, people want to smile, laugh and be entertained by a charming personality. Don’t get caught up in the physical; your energy goes a long way in determining your attractiveness to other people.
If you sign up for my membership, you’ll get a webinar at least once a month and you can see firsthand that I don’t follow a word of my own advice!
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor.
Read more articles by Sara Grillo