After more than a year of living with COVID-19, there are signs that we could return to something close to normal by this summer. That’s right: a future of mingling with friends, family, and colleagues indoors is within sight. However, it’s safe to say that our use of videoconferencing platforms is here to stay, even after social distancing restrictions are fully lifted. What started as a necessity last March has, for some, become a source of convenience. Teletherapy in particular has emerged as a lifeline for people who have barriers to attending in-person therapy. Yet even a year in, many of us still experience a sense of “Zoom anxiety.” That is, we feel self-conscious or anxious about videoconferencing to the point of distraction. One way to alleviate these feelings is to use the tools around us to our advantage. Here are six tips to feel more at ease and look your best on camera, whether you’re meeting with colleagues, with family or with a healthcare professional. #1 - Assess Your Lighting Good lighting is essential to humanizing your video interactions. Natural light is the highest quality and most flattering form of lighting. If natural light isn’t an option, you can purchase a ring light, which mimics white natural light. A lamp will do fine as well. Just make sure that you are facing the light source to avoid creating a silhouette or halo effect.
Facing away from the light
Facing towards the window with overhead light on
Facing towards the window with overhead lights off
#2 – Check Your Surroundings Keep your space free of clutter and other visual distractions. Using a blank or minimally decorated wall as your backdrop will keep the main focus on you. Try to avoid doorways in the background, especially if there is a chance for someone to pop in while you’re on a call. #3 – Evaluate Your Camera Angle Your camera should be at or slightly above eye level. You can achieve this by purchasing a laptop stand or a phone tripod, or by stacking books or boxes on your worksurface. Also ensure the camera isn’t too close to your face. Most laptops have wide-angle lenses, which will distort your face if you are too close. If your laptop or phone is just not cutting it, you can buy a stand-alone camera that can mount on your screen or to a tripod. #4 – Use the Mute Button Unsurprisingly, new standards of etiquette are arising for video meetings. Chief among them is the use of the mute button. Start meetings on mute and keep yourself on mute until you are ready to speak. This cuts back on background noise, especially when multiple people are on a call. #5 – Dress for Success The clothes we wear can have a big impact on camera. Solid colors and simple patterns work best. Keep in mind that the camera angle can play tricks with what you wear. Shirts with graphics or writing and sleeveless and v-neck tops may be cut off in an unflattering way by the camera. Always do a quick camera check before hopping on a call. #6 – Take Time for Self-Care Zoom fatigue is a real condition. Make sure you have plenty of water and a healthy snack within reach. Also, build time into your schedule to step away from your desk. Socialize (safely) with colleagues and friends, go for a quick walk or just take a moment to decompress. At Mindfully, we offer both in-person and teletherapy sessions for clients. If you need to seek help, call or schedule an appointment online. We’ll do our best to find the right fit so you can get started feeling better.