If you're like a lot of people, you've used the video chat platform Zoom quite a bit since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year. You have probably even used it for professional purposes, such as a video job interview. However, you don't always want to show off that you're taking the call in your kitchen or living room (especially if you don't have a home office), so a background graphic is often a good idea.
But is there a strategy for selecting your Zoom background? The following tips should help:
1) Keep it simple
When you're picking a background, you might not think much about how busy the image is (such as if it has lots of lines or colors) but that makes a big difference for other users, according to Duarte. Simply put, Zoom can't always make the background integrate seamlessly with what's in the foreground of your shot, especially if it's a complicated image. As such, a simpler picture is always preferable.
2) Think about what you're wearing
In a business setting such as a job interview, you should always aim to dress professionally, but you also need to think about how your outfit interacts with your preferred background, Duarte added. If there's a color clash, or they blend together too well and make part of your body "disappear" on the screen, that's a problem, so it's important to tailor your background to what you're wearing.
3) Take note of the kind of meeting it is
If you're just having a casual conversation with friends or co-workers, you can make your background a little fun but you'll have to remember to change it back for more serious efforts, according to Tech Republic. You don't want to sit down for an important follow-up interview for a job you're really excited about, only to realize too late that your background is an image from Super Mario Bros. Make sure you check before logging on.
4) Don't forget the great outdoors
When looking for a little background inspiration, one of the easiest ways to find something that everyone will find acceptable is a good photo of nature, Tech Republic said. Again, you don't want it to be too busy or distracting, but a scenic view will almost always come across as professional and acceptable.
5) Play around with different options
It's not always easy to find a background you like and are comfortable with, so it's important to experiment with a number of choices before logging on to a call, according to Digital Trends. That way, you can find something that fits the mood, and even if it takes a few extra minutes before each meeting, you can consider that time well spent.
6) Remember to try to sit still
Finally, if you're not particularly accustomed to using video chats, one of the most important things to do is make sure you don't move around too much on camera, Digital Trends noted. The quality of your background image will degrade as you shift in your chair or get up, and that can expose at least some of your real surroundings. As such, it's better to just stay as still as you can throughout the meeting.