Top On-Camera Mistakes to Avoid on Zoom By Diana L. Howles, MA

December 18, 2022


Video platforms like Zoom have become part of the new normal. As speakers, you may even present more often virtually than you do in person. But the online venue is an entirely different medium. As such, there are certain on-camera elements to be aware of to remain credible, focus attention, and stay impactful. Just turning on the webcam and letting it roll, for example, is not the best strategy. Instead, by tweaking a few basic elements you can come across more effectively. Let’s explore the common mistakes most people make on video platforms and how you can avoid them.

  1. Inadequate Lighting – For most people, lighting yourself well may not even be on your radar. However, it’s important because video requires lots of light. Your virtual audience wants to see you, your face, eyes, and mouth while you speak. So, to cast you in the best light—literally—the general rule is to light yourself from the front, not the back. Place soft light sources to the left and right of your device or in the middle. Avoid a window positioned behind you, for example, which can cast you in silhouette.
  1. Awkward Camera Angles – If your laptop or tablet is sitting on a lower table or desk while you speak, this can feel like an intimidating, looming figure to your audience. These awkward angles can even result in unflattering poses of you by showcasing the double-chin angle or nose pose. And nobody wants to see those. Also avoid angles where you’re cropped at the chin, have excessive headroom above you, or are off center. These views are distracting to audiences. Instead, center yourself and elevate your device so the lens is near your hairline to establish eye-level rapport more evenly.
  2. Distracting Backgrounds – Make sure your background is free from distractions and that the items in your backdrop are conducive to your topic. Clear away clutter which can remain in your room but are outside the camera frame. You can use virtual backgrounds if they do not call attention to themselves. And consider wearing lighter color clothing on top if your background is darker. Alternatively, wear darker clothes if you have a lighter color background. This creates a contrast of light on dark or dark on light, so you pop from your background.
  3. Lack of Connection with Camera Lens – As speakers, you know firsthand the power of eye contact. We create the illusion of this when you look directly at the camera lens. Although it can certainly be challenging to look at a cold, impersonable lens, whenever possible, direct your eyes to the lens and ensure you know the right focus point on your device. Remember, this is the conduit to your audience and there are real people on the other side of the lens.

By investing time upfront to make a few, small on-camera adjustments, you can make a big difference not only with your online presence, but also, with the overall impact you can have on your audience.

diana howles

Diana L. Howles, MA | CEO and Co-owner | Howles Associates, LLC | Office | 608.213.6212
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