Technology Explained

How to Look Good on a Webcam When Video Chatting

Christian Cawley Updated 25-03-2020

With video conferencing, vlogging, and even appearing on TV via remote link on the rise, looking good on webcam is increasingly important. But so many people get it wrong. Experts, politicians, YouTubers, even models and style experts can end up looking terrible on webcams.

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So, how does one look good for a webcam? Simply, make the most of what you’ve got. Learn how by following these tips to get you looking your best for the camera.

13 Ways You Can Look Better on Your Webcam

Looking good when on a video chat is vital. While one or two people you’re close to might not mind you looking a mess, this isn’t usually the case.

How to look good on a webcam

Here are 13 things you can do to look better on webcam calls and recordings:

  1. Use a good quality webcam
  2. Sound great with a decent microphone
  3. Look presentable with clothes and makeup
  4. Have a tidy background
  5. Don’t get too close or too far away
  6. Light from the front, not behind
  7. Look at the camera, not the screen
  8. Look up at the webcam, not down
  9. Don’t move around too much
  10. Establish a dedicated space for webcam recordings and chats
  11. Rehearse to improve your confidence
  12. Check the results with a friend
  13. Be yourself

With so much to consider, let’s explore these tips in detail so you can look good on a webcam today.

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1. Look Good With a Quality Webcam

Using a cheap webcam will leave you with sub-par results. If you’re serious about looking good, get a decent external webcam.

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Leave plenty of time between hooking it up and using it. Take the time to test it, preferably with the chat software or video recording app you’re using. This gives you the opportunity to make any adjustments to the set up.

2. Improve Webcam Audio with a Good Mic

Built-in mics on laptops, some desktops, and webcams are typically mediocre. To sound good on webcam, it’s smarter to use a dedicated microphone. A great selection of dedicated microphones is available. Adding one to your setup will improve your overall presentation and complement the quality of your new webcam.

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A good option is the Blue Snowball iCE, a USB microphone that works with desktop and laptop computers.

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Not sure how to install a mic? Check these no-hassle ways to connect a microphone to your PC 5 No-Hassle Ways to Connect a Microphone to Your PC Built-in microphone not working on your computer? Here are five ways to hook up an external microphone in just a few minutes. Read More .

3. Look Good on Webcam: Make Yourself Presentable

Presentation is key to looking good on a webcam. It doesn’t matter if you’re working from home for a video chat or being interviewed on TV.

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Just be sure to get out of your pyjamas into some more suitable attire. You might be at home, but first impressions count, and pyjamas say, “I just got up.”

Take the time to prepare your hair and teeth. Sort out stray hair, floss and brush your teeth, and have if necessary. If you need makeup, leave plenty of time to apply it. This is particularly important with high definition video.

For clothing, rely on darker tones. Bright clothes can be off-putting and play havoc with lighting. Keep it muted.

4. Check Your Background on Webcam

A plain white wall is boring, but piles of junk are both distracting and unpleasant. See what you can do to create a pleasant background with no mess and very few visual distractions.

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If this isn’t possible, some webcam apps can blur your background. For example, Skype features a background blurring tool that you can toggle for video calls. Other webcam apps include similar tools.

You might also try a webcam background that attaches to your chair.

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These come in grey, blue, and green for chromakey use. This means you can set a different background, although in most cases this is only suitable for post-production. But if you’re using your webcam for recording videos to upload to YouTube, this is an ideal background cheat.

5. Get the Distance Right

A distracting element for any webcam conversation is a subject that is too far away—or too close!

It’s best to maintain a static distance with your webcam. A good rule of thumb is to keep the camera about an arm’s length from you.

6. Light From the Front and Look Great

If it’s at all possible to relocate the lights before you use a webcam, then do so. Too much light from behind will dim you out completely.

Try to shine light on yourself from the front, preferably from slightly above. If there’s a window in the room, try to face that as natural light from the window is best.

It’s difficult to avoid glare and washout but try out a few different positions to get the best results. If you don’t have a handy window or lamp, consider using an external monitor behind your webcam. Just bring up something very white on-screen and turn up the brightness.

A phone or tablet computer can also help here. You can also buy desktop lamps for improved video call lighting.

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These devices are affordable and ideal for indoor video on a PC webcam or mobile device.

7. Remember to Look at the Camera

Find the right angle to look at your webcam

All too often, especially during webcam chats, the image of the person you’re speaking to can distract you. The result is you’re looking slightly away from the camera, rather than at it.

So, remember to look at the camera. You can help yourself here with a few tricks:

  • Point a sticky note with an arrow at your camera
  • Move your chat window as close to the camera as possible
  • Write prompts on a stick note and place it next to the camera

Looking down when you’re supposed to be looking at the webcam can be disconcerting for the viewer. Take a moment to practice this with your device’s webcam app.

8. Use the Best Webcam Angle: Look Up at the Camera

A slight change in camera positioning could make a world of difference. This is particularly important whether you’re vlogging, appearing on TV, or attending an online job interview.

Looking up shows you in the best possible light. If you’ve worked on the other presentation aspects, ignoring this tip could ruin your hard work so far.

In short, when you’re looking down at a camera, you’re giving yourself a double chin. If that wasn’t bad enough, looking down can also and show off your nose hairs.

Looking up is far more flattering. Position the webcam to suit; if you’re using a laptop, place it on a few books for elevation.

9. Minimise Your Motion, and Don’t Lean In

Moving around too much on a webcam can cause problems. First, too much motion can be distracting. Second, it can cause pixilation of the video stream, resulting in a drop in quality. Keep as still as possible so the focus remains on what you’re saying.

Meanwhile, be careful not to lean back or forward. Leaning back too far will distract the viewer and result in them losing attention; leaning in can be intimidating.

10. Set Up A Dedicated Webcam Space

If you’re using your webcam often, you may want to set up your space, so you have a decent background. This includes maintaining front lighting and keeping your webcam at a good height.

Ensure you keep your webcam equipment, comb, decent shirt, and basic makeup ready, too. Be prepared and you’ll be able to jump into webcam chats at short notice and look as good as possible.

11. Be Confident on Webcam: Rehearse!

Be sure your webcam tips are good

Knowing what you’re going to say boosts confidence and will help to make a good impression.

If you’re having a meeting, make sure you know the main points you need to get across. Need statistics or other data to hand? Make sure you have it ready before your webcam chat starts, just as you would for an in-person meeting.

If you’re doing a show, make notes and practise just like you would for any public presentation.

12. Check the Results With A Friend

If you’re unsure about your set-up, arrange a Skype chat with a trusted friend and ask for their opinion. They should be able to help you spot any problems with how you look, lighting, background, and how you sound.

Do this ahead of time so there is opportunity to make the necessary changes before your webcam call or recording.

13. Be Yourself

A desire to look good can easily lead to copying and imitating other people. Don’t!

Just be yourself and stay calm. If you’ve followed all the steps so far, you should be confident that you look your best and are prepared to be on camera. So, just keep smiling and stay cool.

Use These Tips to Look Good on Your Webcam

Whether you’re making vlogs, video calls, joining video conferencing sessions for work, or appearing as a guest on network or online TV, the tips listed here can help you look good on a webcam.

First impressions count: don’t let yourself down by being untidy, unprepared, and uncertain. Need a webcam in a pinch? You could record your vlog or make the video call on your phone. If you must use a PC, here’s how to use your Android phone as a webcam How to Use an Android Phone as a Webcam Need to record video on your PC but don't have a webcam? Use your Android phone as a webcam with these nifty apps! Read More for your computer.

Related topics: Remote Work, Video Conferencing, Webcam.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Jay
    September 26, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    I'm so sorry. But if i look at your pictures... this is exactly what i DON'T want to look like on a webcam. Too many pimples and other red zones on your head.

    thnx for not helping!

  2. Edward Bellair
    November 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    There are some people who just can't be helped tho,

  3. Patrick McAuley
    November 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    One thing I was hoping you would have suggestions for was how to avoid reflections. I wear glasses and whenever I use Skype, the bright computer screen reflects in my eyeglasses so whoever is on the other end can't see my eyes. I've tried turning my head a bit, but that looks strange. Best thing I've come up with is making sure I have a plain black wallpaper and making the video image on my screen smaller, so there's less to reflect in my glasses. Of course, this means I don't get as good a view of the other person. Anyone have other suggestions? (I won't move to contacts just for this.)

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 9, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Oh, that's a clever trick. I don't have glasses, so I haven't looked into it.

  4. Chaos Emperor
    November 6, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Thank god.Finally found it

  5. Tony Yarbrough
    November 5, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Angela, Some good information. However, I would have preferred to take this one step beyond. Such as how to take and image [photo of self, favorite pet, etc.] and place it as what hte camarea broadcasts instead of yourself - live.

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

      If I understand you correctly, you could just upload your preferred image as your profile picture then turn off your webcam. Then, even if you can see other people on webcam, they'll still see your profile picture.

  6. Terafall
    November 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you for the tips.I've been looking very badly for this

  7. Daniel Escasa
    November 5, 2012 at 4:48 am

    <quote>
    If you’re not sure about your set-up, set up a Skype chat with a trusted friend and ask for their opinion. They should easily be able to help you decide if the background is okay, if the lighting is right and help you to look natural and at your best.
    </quote>

    Some video-conferencing services do show what you look like to other participants in the video chat. From videos I've seen, Google+ Hang-outs do (or is that 'does'??) Haven't tried Skype though. I was on Ekiga for a while and far as I remember, you did get a preview of you.

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Yeah, Google hangouts do a good preview. With Skype you can only see yourself while you're on a call (on the versions I've used, anyway). But advice from friends is usually a good call too!

  8. Gregori Gualdron
    November 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Key Points.. Thank you

  9. Zhong Jiang
    November 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    This would be helpful for a job interview, not through a webcam.

  10. Ahmed Khalil
    November 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    new type of articles, very strange but it is nice thanks

  11. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    You're forgetting the most important part: Before you go live, make sure your internet connection is stable and work properly. You'd not give good impressions if you suddenly go offline every few minutes.

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

      Good point! Although, if you have a meeting and your connection happens to be flaky at the same time, you're in trouble regardless.

  12. Ritwick Saikia
    November 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Webcams are useful for staying in touch with friends and family over long distances and durations :) and they don't care how I look.

  13. Mac Witty
    November 3, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Great tips! Still, light, light and light is where I think most people fail - I think you can never get too much light

  14. Martin
    November 3, 2012 at 2:24 am

    The image examples in this article are very poor. How can you write an article on how to look good on webcam and then look so incredibly bad in your own shots? And I'm not talking about your looks, I'm talking about how the shots look. They're all dark and gloomy and a little creepy. Turn a room light on or get a better webcam.

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      You're right. I think these are pretty bad, too. I wanted to illustrate the different steps, though. Sadly, my house is naturally gloomy in Winter and nothing I could do would brighten these up. Every day for a week I took photos with the best natural lighting I could get (plus room lights). I almost considered using my digital camera just to illustrate the different angles and lighting, since my webcam was doing such a bad job, but then I thought that would be cheating. I really do need a better webcam!

      • Douglas Mutay
        November 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

        Thanks for being honest with us. But never mind, the article is still great even with the poor quality of your pictures! Thumb up! Bravo

        • Angela Alcorn
          November 9, 2012 at 10:14 am

          And thank you for being kind about it! :)

  15. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 3, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I prefer to have lights pointing to my face, hahaha, because i don't want to get bad image even with a conversation with some important people.

  16. Boni Oloff
    November 3, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Wow, great idea to give better image while talking to client in Skype. :)