As the fall semester approaches, classes are going to be looking a lot different. Thanks to Miss Corona, many colleges across the country are planning to adjust to online learning or a hybrid model, in which professors will meet with students both in-person and online. Regardless of what method institutions intend to follow, video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom will be heavily incorporated in some shape or form.
Unfortunately, this new way of distance-learning isn’t new to us. Despite this familiarity, I found it difficult to navigate how I present myself to my professors and classmates throughout the previous spring semester. I often found myself unmotivated to get ready— waking up 15 minutes before classes, leaving time to wash my face, brush my hair and teeth, only to hop back into bed and turn on my laptop.
Although there’s no shame in not packing on makeup or staying in your pajamas, I’ve realized that there are several ways in which you can naturally enhance your appearance and, simultaneously, your awareness during online meetings, which barely require any effort. Don’t worry about dressing to impress. Instead, take a look at some of these tips I use to get ready for my Zoom meetings.
Wake up Earlier
I know, I know— this isn’t ideal. I love an extra hour to sleep in if I can get it. I’m even guilty of waking up minutes before my classes. However, if you have a class scheduled early in the morning, I’d recommend not following suit. I’ve noticed that when I wake up at least an hour before my first class, I’m able to take my time in the mornings, not having to rush and allowing my eyes to fully adjust to the bright, morning light. With the extra time you gain by waking up earlier, making breakfast is a must. This will get you energized and prepared for any in-class assignments and discussions. As a plus, your mic won’t pick up on any stomach growls. When you allow yourself time in the mornings and avoid scrambling to get ready, you instantly feel more revitalized and prepared for what’s to come.
Get the Perfect Lighting
Once you’ve had time to eat your breakfast and regain liveliness, find a spot in your location that offers bright lighting. If you have a scheduled online meeting during the day, I’d recommend sitting somewhere that faces a window, reflecting natural, soft light on your face. Make sure to avoid sitting with your back to any windows, or else your camera could turn you into that dreaded shadowed silhouette. In terms of when the sky begins to darken, place a lamp directly by your face to create balanced lighting. Steer clear from any side light or backlight. These tips will help keep you from shadening or blocking your face in any way. We want that spotlight on you!
Find the Perfect Background
This tip ties in with the previous one. If possible, find a plain and simple background, such as a blank wall or a setting that offers few distractions. Now that you have perfect lighting, we want the focus to be on your face, not on what’s behind you. For example, busy bookshelves and walls with plenty of paintings can distract people’s attention. In addition, avoid sitting where messes are visible. Sure, we all have our messes, but fake it ‘til you make it!
Avoid Wearing Busy Patterns
Although there’s nothing wrong with wearing what you feel comfortable in, steer away from wearing busy patterns while on video calls. Busy patterns ultimately fall victim to the moiré effect, where the camera transforms the patterns on your clothing into strange-looking waves and ultimately distracts those with whom you are meeting. If you can, avoid wearing bold stripes and plaid patterns. In addition, large patterns can also be distracting as they tend to take attention away from your face. Instead, try wearing neutral colors such as gray or light pastels.
Lastly, when you’re finally ready to sit down and begin your meeting, make sure that your webcam is adjusted at eye-level. Avoid angling the camera low to your face so that people get a clear shot up your nose; although I’m definitely guilty of this… we definitely don’t want that. Instead, eye-to-eye contact is the best way to connect with people while on-camera. If the camera is positioned below your eyes, I recommend stacking books under your computer in order to achieve that direct contact.
Although getting ready for online classes seems pretty easy and self-explanatory, these simple tips will definitely make a difference in your presentation and ultimately work in your favor. Online classes may look and feel much different but you should still be able to look and feel prepared. Good luck to everyone this semester, and don’t forget to unmute your mic when you speak!