Healthcare workers are battling a deadly virus dressed in garbage bags, so yes, the way your chin looks on Zoom calls in clearly not the biggest problem in the world.
Still, it's a problem. Constantly wondering why you look washed out and terrible on your video calls distracts you from whatever you're actually supposed to be accomplishing. And hey, it's not great for your mood either.
Also, it's totally fixable.
How to beat video conferencing self consciousness.
As Quartz has reported, seeing yourself on video calls was distracting even before we had a pandemic to worry about. "A 2014 survey by US furniture maker Steelcase, 72 percent of people felt self-conscious about their image on video," Anne Quito wrote for the site, before offering simple steps to improve your video conferencing confidence.
I've rounded up her ideas as well as other expert suggestions (including ones from a helpful professional cinematographer) to help you forget your own face and stay focused on what actually matters during your next video call.
Put the camera higher. "Put the device (laptop, phone, tablet, aka the camera) at eye level," advises cinematographer Bob Sacha on Medium. Placing it on top of some books should do the trick. "Avoid the view your cat sees when she's looking up from the floor, demanding dinner," he adds.
Consider composition. Sacha also points out that composition - how you arrange the visual elements on your screen - matters a ton. "Try to get your eyes in the top third of the frame. Then tilt down a bit so you don't cut off the top of your head," he instructs.
Look at the camera. In Steelcase's survey "researchers noted that telecommuters struggled to make eye contact because their instinct was to look at the screen rather than into the computer's camera lens. Good eye contact enables participants to be more engaged and get into the flow of a meeting," notes Quito So endeavor to look at the blinking green light rather than focusing on how you need a haircut.
Adjust your lighting. You want to light your face but not too harshly, which will make you look like you're telling a ghost story around a campfire. Your best bet? Bounce a light off the wall or desk to illuminate your face. Alternatively, you can diffuse a lamp with a pillow case or other white material (be careful not to light it on fire if it's a hot bulb). Also, check there are no bright lights behind you that will make your face appear shadowed.
Declutter your background. Lots of creative folks have crafted Zoom backgrounds that will make your colleagues think your apartment is way more well designed than it is (or that you're on the set of Pulp Fiction). But tech trickery isn't required. You could simply take a minute to clear the clutter from behind your workspace. Sacha notes that sitting a bit further from your background creates a pleasing sense of depth.
Try mirror meditation. You've probably seen yourself on camera more in the past few weeks than in several previous decades combined. No wonder you're shocked at your appearance - you've rarely paid it much attention before. Change that with "mirror meditation," suggests psychology professor Tara Well. All it involves is sitting in front of a mirror for ten minutes a day attending to your appearance with kindness and acceptance. Here's a deeper dive if you're intrigued.
OK, now maybe you can forget about your chin and focus on what people are actually saying in your next call. Good luck.