11 June 2021 (updated)

10-Minute Zoom Makeover: Prepared, Polished, & Present

Now more than ever, Americans are organizing virtual meetings with friends, colleagues, and even potential dates over Zoom. Learn easy tips to look stunning onscreen in just 10 minutes. When you're short on time and want to leave a great virtual impression, looking great starts with a few simple steps for a 10-minute Zoom makeover.

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10-Minute Zoom Makeover Basics

What do you do when you're on a time crunch and your boss just texted you that you have to be on a Zoom call in 10 minutes? If you don't have an hour to get ready, making the most of the time you do have to look polished is critical. First, make sure your hair is in place. If you haven't washed your hair in days, get out the dry shampoo and spray some on your tresses to give it the just-washed look.

If your hair is out of control, brush your hair back and put it in either a quick bun or ponytail. However, if you have short hair, brush it and use hair spray so it's tidy around your face.

Lighting Is Everything

Great lighting can be very forgiving to tired skin. It only takes a few moments to walk around with your cell phone in selfie mode to scout out good lighting. What you want to look for is diffused direct sunlight that doesn't give your face shadows. Overhead light and sitting with the back of your head behind a window will make you look like you're in the shadows. What you want to look for is to set yourself directly in front of a window with your eyes facing the light

Find a flattering light window that is in front of your computer or cell phone. Good webcam lighting can wash away wrinkles and make you look more awake. However, the wrong kind of light can make you look tired and unprepared.

If you have more Zoom calls in the evening, consider investing in a selfie clip ring light that you can attach to your laptop camera or cell phone.  Also, a tripod ring light will free up your hands.

Choosing the Perfect Background

Keep your Zoom background tidy and neutral. Hide the dirty laundry, unwashed dishes, and kid toys so that your background is clean. If you have a mess behind you, then choose a virtual background that can provide a sense of visual comfort for your audience.

If you don't have a neutral background in your own home, choose a virtual one that won't annoy your audience. You can use a bookshelf background to promote a sense of calm. Choosing virtual backgrounds that show that you're in outer space or on a paradise island when you are on a corporate meeting may send the wrong message. In addition, opting out of a goofy background is a sign of courtesy to eliminate visual distractions.

If you have any doubt as to whether you have a good Zoom background, watch a TV news show or documentary with lots of personal interviews. What do they have behind them? Use that as your guide. If they use virtual graphics, they're probably not too distracting. If they're in-person, they'll almost always have good lighting, a relatively neutral background, and small items like some good houseplants, or a bookshelf for a little more visual interest and color.

Most importantly, use a simple background and avoid backlight from bright windows that will make you look like a shadow. You want the lighting to be focused on your face.

Top 10-Minute Zoom Makeover Priority: The Right Angle

If you only have a few seconds to prepare, make sure that you know the most flattering angle to set the camera. Consider investing in a portable tripod if you're using your cellphone for meetings. Also, have a box prop for your laptop so that you set your webcam slightly above your eyelids. This will make your chin look flattering.

The least complementary angle is setting your webcam below eye level. This will make you carry extra chins and distort your face. A great camera angle can make you look a lot less disheveled.

Photo Credit: Taniya Perry

List of Makeup Tricks

If you don't usually wear a lot of makeup consider a few tweaks to pull yourself together. You may want to bring out your eyes with a little mascara and a dab of tinted lip balm. A little bit of blush will bring color to your face.

However, if your colleagues are used to seeing you with polished makeup and you're short on time, prioritize what will make you look most put together. Moisturize your skin with a tinted moisturizer and use a concealer to cover under-eye circles. Groom your eyebrows with a clear eyebrow gel. Or, if you have blonde eyebrows, be sure to fill them in with brow pencil or gel.

Furthermore, add eyeliner to the top of your lids and a neutral eye shadow to put everything together. Finally, put on your favorite lipstick. Bolder colors will make you look more put together while neutral shades are great if you're short on time.

Stay Present

When you're on the Zoom call, one of the most important things you can do to leave a great impression is to stay present. Instead of looking at your screen, be sure to focus on the camera lens so that you look like you're speaking directly to your colleagues at eye-level.

Also, refrain from nervous distractions. If you're known for fidgeting with your hair, keep your hands firmly on your lap.  Furthermore, consider refraining from touching your hair or your face while you're actively on your Zoom meeting. Remember, in group calls, you don't want to look unprofessional. Skip the nervous ticks and practice deep breathing.Small changes can leave a big impression. When you jump on your call be prepared, present, and polished. One last thing is don't forget to smile for the camera. It lights up your face.

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