Meeting with the boss on a video call and the house is a mess? Here’s how to keep it your secret.
Meeting with the boss on a video call and the house is a mess? Here’s how to keep it your secret.

Tips for looking good on a video call

Been caught out on a video call to colleagues and worried you looked stupid?

You're not alone with the escalation in Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other video conferencing in the past year blurring the line between personal and professional life.

Zoom reports its Australian user base increased 54 times between 2019 and 2020, with more than 800 million meetings held in the Asia-Pacific region.

Zoom APAC small to medium business head Ceri-Anne Smith says people turned to it for an easy solution to stay connected, whether for a work meeting or a birthday call with their parents.

"People don't want to be switching between apps or dealing with clunky systems that only work for certain aspects of their lives," she says.

Virtual backgrounds and noise adjusting were among its most popular meeting features used last year, as users made an effort to block out their personal lives.


‘I’m not a cat’ lawyer pleads during Zoom hearing
‘I’m not a cat’ lawyer pleads during Zoom hearing


But to avoid looking like a cat or potato, getting caught on the toilet or being video-bombed by your naked partner getting out of the shower, there are some other simple steps to take.



Have another device on hand with the software installed to be used in case of emergency.

Professional Speakers Australia member Warwick Merry says jumping straight onto a mobile phone instead of using a laptop, for example, is a quick way to navigate around many issues, such as a filter being applied.

Merry, a certified speaking professional, urges users to try not to panic if presented with something they cannot turn off.

"In the history of calming down, telling someone to calm down never actually works but that's what you've got to do," he says. "Take a deep breath and troubleshoot this."



Avoid allowing others, such as children, use your devices or accounts that are used for work and potentially changing settings.

"Have clear boundaries around what's work," Merry says.



Pay extra attention to how you look and sound.

"Brief the people that are in the household (that you are having a meeting) if you live in a share house, or have a partner who's a bit of a jokester," Merry says.

Also be aware of your mute status, and take note of how to turn it on if in a meeting controlled by the host.



Moving around is a distraction for others on the call, but it also can lead to them catching you doing something else.

If you need to move, leave the device where it is. Act like your camera is always on, even if you think it is not.


Make the effort to stay updated with new features, and prepare your environment before each meeting.

"Log in 15 minutes early," Merry says.

"It's too hard to keep up with all the changes that are happening all the time."

Also, do not be afraid to just kill the livestream by leaving the meeting or cancelling it for another time.

"Everyone has problems with technology and people are very understanding," Merry says.



A virtual background can give users privacy if they work in an area such as a bedroom or messy living area.

However, while using a photo of your pet, for example, may seem innocuous and present an insight into your personality, it still may not be appropriate for all occasions.

Virtual backgrounds also provide distracting picture quality, particularly when people shift in their seat. But a plain white wall can be too dull.

"For me - someone who produces events for a lot of people - I have a basic plain wall, and have an LED light that changes colours," Merry says.

"I used to have books on a shelf but I'd see people turn their heads, looking to see what the books are. Virtual backgrounds are fun but a bit gimmicky. There is a new one in which you can blur the background."

The Professional Speakers Australia Convention will feature sessions outlining online presenting skills. Visit



Blur your background, rather than using an image.

■ Try a filter that touches up your appearance and adjusts for low lighting.

■ If a virtual background is required, check the technical requirements. For example, if the camera is set to a 16:9 orientation, an image of 1280x720 pixels or 1920x1080 pixels works well.

■ Purchase extra equipment such as a webcam, earphones and lights to improve the quality of your picture and sound.

■ Save as a bookmark to quickly be able to search for tips and troubleshooting options.

Source: ZOOM

Originally published as How to look good on a video call

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