Connecting mostly over video calls – whether for meetings, group watches, Facetime birthday parties, or Zoom dates – is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. But as many of us are finding out, not all video dates are created equal. It’s hard enough to get a sense of someone on an in-person date, and between patchy Wi-Fi, bad angles, and worse lighting, over video it can feel basically impossible. These tips will help you minimize distractions, connect better over video, and find your best light. Read on.
Location, Location, Location
You already know that choosing a location for your video date is key. The ideal spot should have layered lighting, some personality, zero clutter, a power source, and a surface for your device and a cocktail or glass of water. If you plan to sit with your back to a plain wall, bring in some texture with a sweeping floor plant, a standing or wall mirror that reflects an interesting detail from the room, framed art, or even a wall hanging. If you use the same space as an office, choose something that you can put up for dates but put away before meetings. If you plan to sit with your back to the rest of the room, tidy up and minimize distractions. When you’re on video, your date should see more of your personality than a plain white wall, but not get distracted by an overcrowded frame or by trying to read every spine on your knick-knack-covered bookshelf. And it should go without saying, but it doesn’t: no one should ever see your dirty clothes or dishes.
Light It Up
Good lighting is key to good-looking video dates, and that means diffused, indirect light that highlights your features and minimizes shadows. If the sun’s out, use curtains or shades to cut down the glare and avoid sitting with your back to the windows – on video, all your date will see is a silhouette. If it’s after dark, then overhead lighting? You don’t know her. Instead, use lamps in the same color range around the room to cast a glow. If you normally prefer cool light in some places and warm in others, switch out your current bulbs for Philips Hue LED bulbs or other smart lights that you can change from cool and bright for the workday to warmer and softer for socializing, both now and when it’s safe to have people over again. Don’t bother with a ring light unless you’re planning to make it big on TikTok.
Check Your Angles
Most devices with built-in cameras use a wide-angle lens, which is what makes everyone look weird if they lean in on a call. Move yours a few inches back so you look like yourself, even if you lean forward a little. Then position it so the camera is an inch or so above eye level, propping your device up on some books to adjust, and tilt it down at you very slightly from above. Make sure you’re facing the camera straight on, in the center of the frame.
Check Your Settings
Test out your Wi-Fi to make sure your connection is strong and troubleshoot it if not. Make sure whatever you’re making the call from is plugged in, and if it isn’t your phone then plug your phone in too, just in case. Check that the mic is unobstructed, or if you’re using headphones that they’re charged and ready. Close every app besides the one the call will be in.
If you’re using Zoom, go into your settings > video and check “mirror my video,” “touch up my appearance,” and “turn off my video” when joining a meeting. Then go to settings > audio, say a few words to test your mic, and check “mute microphone when joining a meeting.” Finally, if you use your call app for work, change your display title to just your first name. Leaving “CEO” up there is not the power move you think it is.
Dress To Impress
You might be tempted to dress up on top but keep it casual or commando on the bottom. At some point, especially if the date goes well and lasts long enough, you’ll have to stand up. Avoid an awkward sidle out of your chair, or revealing that you paired an ironed top with stained cutoffs, by dressing like your date might see all of you.
You already know to treat video dates like in-person dates in terms of your grooming and dressing, but a few further steps can help you really pop through the screen. Avoid busy patterns, strapless tops, and – unless you’re showing some skin for contrast – clothes that are solid black or white. These outfits can look hot in person, but on video will make you look muddled, distorted, shapeless, or topless. Red is a good alternative, but so is your favorite color.
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