Whether you’re conducting virtual meetings, webinars or just checking in with colleagues and clients, a better background can make all the difference.
One of the biggest winners to come out of the pandemic is Zoom, the videoconferencing platform that’s suddenly indispensable and used for everything from virtual weddings and happy hours to, yes, actual meetings as well.
If you’re not happy with the way you look in your Zoom meetings, it’s time to apply some interior design know-how to your background and your virtual office setting.
1. Add some fun to your statement wall
Don’t feel limited to a paneled study or blank space as your Zoom background. A great backdrop can include anything from a piece of interesting art to a beautifully organized bookshelf or a dramatic wallpaper. Think outside the box by including a collection that has special significance for you, like a grouping of guitars, surfboards or fashion sketches.
2. Put your personality on display
Just as you would include some personal touches in an office setting, your Zoom wall allows colleagues and clients to get to know you a bit better. You may choose to feature a selection of books you love or share your plant-mom skills with a succulent wall. Macrame wall hangings, photos of your pets or a collage wall of pieces by your favorite artist can also help your background stand out.
3. Minimize distractions
As you’re designing your Zoom wall, remember that the background should enhance rather than distract. Keep your design simple and edited. Don’t over-clutter your space — leave enough space for you to stand out.
While you may want to include personal items, don’t include something that’s too silly, vulgar or potentially offensive. In addition, leave out items that move, change color or have lighting effects, as these will be too distracting.
4. Let color take center stage
Thinking about a more minimalist design? Bring the drama with color, leaving your wall blank if necessary but painting it a fun shade. Consider adding texture to your Zoom wall with cork, fabric or wallpaper. Before you choose your color, make sure it will enhance your skin tone as well so that you’ll look your best.
5. Make sure lighting is on point
Lighting is a must and makes a bigger difference than any other single element. Make sure you and your space are well lit, using either natural light or artificial light.
If you need to add additional light, consider this desktop studio ring light from Urban Outfitters or a ring light designed to attach to your computer monitor or laptop.
6. Get your height right
Make sure your seat and monitor are at the right height for your best angle. Too high and you are looking at the top of someone’s head. Too low and participants are treated to a view of the inside of your nostrils.
In addition, don’t sit too close to the screen — it can distort your appearance and interfere with sound quality. Put your camera at your hairline level, then tilt slightly downward to look your best.
Even after COVID-19 restrictions are over, Zoom meetings are poised to continue since many workers will be eligible for work-from-home long term. Since virtual meetings are probably here to stay, a few minutes of extra time optimizing your conference space can pay off in better first impressions and more confidence for you.
Who knows? Your new Zoom background and better lighting may just inspire you to start that video channel you’ve been putting off or conduct more Facebook Live videos. When you look better, you feel better and perform better, and that’s great for your business — both now and in the future.
Antoinette Fargo is the co-founder and creative director of DOORA Collective + DOORA Design in Ventura, California.