Putting your remote speakers in the frame

Framing may often seem like a subtle and secondary consideration for speakers, as it’s more important to hear and see the speaker first. However, if a screen is too low or too high, it can be difficult for the audience to engage with someone who isn’t looking directly at them.

The right framing will clearly impact how you come across presenting online. With a few tricks and a laptop stand, maybe even a couple of books, or a shoebox, at a pinch, you can quickly elevate your look on screen.

If you work in video or are a keen photographer, a lot of this will come very naturally; you’ll intuitively see things that aren’t right with the framing of a shot and correct it.

However, many people ignore looking at how they are framed on screen until they are suddenly live – and you see ‘up the nose shots’ or people having to crane their neck upwards to be seen by their webcam.

This short article will run through how to assess your framing when presenting online properly. We’ll look at a few elements to get things right: your position and the camera, the ‘rule of thirds’, symmetry, checking orientation (if on mobile devices), and then a few additional elements worth bearing in mind.

Get into position

How you are positioned relative to the camera is a critical first step. This will depend, in part, on whether you’re using a desktop or laptop computer. The most flattering shots are created when the camera is at the same level as your face – roughly around your chin, but it depends on your distance from the camera itself. Setting up like this gives a nice level shot, keeping you in proportion. It is the most flattering for your presentation. You’ll never see a TV interview shooting from too high or low; it’s always about eye level, which is how we would generally talk to each other in a conversation.  

One of the most common framing issues is the classic ‘up the nose shot’, often caused by using a lower laptop on your desk.

Sadly, we see this all the time, and it’s straightforward to solve – all you need to do is raise the laptop so the camera is closer to eye level. This will give you a nicer framing, but ergonomically, having the screen at eye level with a keyboard is much better for you overall; it will help you avoid RSI and pains from hunching over your laptop! You could buy a small laptop stand to do this, place a few books, or a shoebox will do the trick (just make sure it’s stable and doesn’t shake).

It can be much harder to move the camera if you’re on a desktop. An iMac is already built-in, so you should raise your chair slightly to compensate. If it’s an external webcam, you can find some great articulated arms online, which allow you to place the camera anywhere you want.

The rule of thirds

So now you’re in position, we can look at your position within the camera frame. It’s no use having your camera correct but sitting off to one corner. For this, we’ll explore the ‘rule of thirds’. We draw a grid across the frame, with lines on each third. Images are much more visually appealing when objects are placed at the intersections of, or on, the red lines.

Now, for Zoom, you’ll be sitting in the centre; however, we can still use the top third line to place your face. It means your head, which we generally want to focus on, is in a natural position. You’ll want a small gap above your head, giving a little room.


Your background should be organised and balanced, like in our images above. We will go into this in more detail in our article on background design here, but here are four points to get your background camera ready:

  • Avoid clutter behind you – so that people focus on you and are not distracted by your background.
  • Where possible, go for a neutral look (pale walls, well-lit) to make you stand out.
  • Placing objects to the side instead of directly behind will help to draw people’s eyes to the centre of the frame.
  • You can also use symmetry to ensure a balance from left to right; for example, if you have a coffee table to the right, maybe place a plant on the left-hand side, so you don’t leave empty space. 

Mobile positioning

With tablets or phones, you can present in portrait or landscape mode with the phone upright or sideways. Portrait format is acceptable when going from mobile to mobile (the same rule of thirds and camera position applies here); however, most events will prefer you to use the device in landscape. It gives better framing and fills the screen for viewers on a desktop, and aligns with the other content. So, if you are on a mobile device, try to find a secure and fixed place to rest the device whilst on the call.

Here’s an example of perfect framing, which you can achieve by following these tips:

We hope this advice helps you with your next event. For further tips, use our CheckR service, where we can test your presentation along with your camera, network and audio; fill out the form below for a free test.

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