Everything You Need to Look Ridiculously Good on Zoom

Look like a pro on video calls when it counts

Nick Wolny
Debugger
Published in
9 min readOct 15, 2020

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All images courtesy of the author

Pre-pandemic, networks brought television guests in to sit on couches and banter with anchors. Or they sent them to some downtown skyscraper to sit in a quiet room on the 23rd floor with a fake metropolitan backdrop, where they would stare down a camera for a satellite interview. In-person interviews stopped when quarantine arrived, but the need for professional commentary didn’t, so to keep the ball rolling stations began beaming guests in via Zoom calls. And it hasn’t been pretty.

I was one of those people. (But at least I wear pants?) I want to look professional in TV appearances and presentations to maximize my chances for future bookings, and a webcam just wasn’t cutting it. It was time for some upgrades.

Here’s a short clip of a recent live interview I did that aired in over 53,000 households. This was a Zoom call. And I ran the whole shebang on a single MacBook in a 59-square-foot bedroom in our house.

This fancy shot doesn’t have to only be for broadcast appearances. If you pitch products, give high-stakes presentations, interviews, or fundraise virtually, an elevated presence can make you appear more persuasive. Or perhaps you’re just pining for a promotion or extra clout at work and want to make a great impression on video calls.

This won’t be one of those “Look better on Zoom in five minutes” articles that have tips like “Sit with the window facing you.” This is a gadgets tutorial on how to go beyond your usual webcam setup using Zoom. I’m not declaring my setup to be the best or even superior, but it is what I use to achieve the above shot each week on TV.

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Before you buy anything

Before we go down the equipment rabbit hole together, let’s review a couple of laptop broadcasting basics.

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Nick Wolny
Debugger

Editor, journalist, consultant. Current: CNET, Out Magazine. Owner, Hefty Media Group, est. 2016. 🏳️‍🌈. LA. nickwolny.com | heftymediagroup.com