The pandemic of 2020 radically changed how we do business. Now, instead of going to physical offices, many employees are instead completing their work from home. Employees who never worked remotely before had to make major changes. These included finding quiet, suitable places to work and figuring out how to have important business meetings in their kitchens or bedrooms.
If you are new to video conferencing, then it may surprise you to learn that more preparation is necessary than just turning on your camera and saying hello. You also want a clean and suitable background, good lighting, and a quiet atmosphere. To help you out, we have composed some tips and advice for what a good video background should look like and how to make your next meeting a success.
It’s All About Your Job
So, how important is it to have a professional background in your video conference? Well, the answer is not so straightforward. After all, what looks professional to one person may look unprofessional to the next. The best way to gauge what your background should look like is to consider the type of job you have. If you work at a brand new startup, you may not need to worry so much about your virtual background. More and more professional roles are becoming virtual post-COVID, and accountants are no exception. If you happen to work in one of these roles, if you work at a large, established company, or you are a member of the management team, you’ll want to put more consideration into what is behind you.
Basically, think about how the atmosphere was when you were still in the office. If you had a casual dress code with shirts, jeans, or shorts, then you may be able to do the same on your video conference. If you worked in a more formal office, then you’d want to limit distractions and have an appropriate virtual background during your video.
The items behind you can be distracting or exciting, depending on your job. For instance, many experts recommend not sitting in front of a bookshelf because instead of listening to your words, your audience may be looking behind you to see what books you own. However, if you are an author or a freelance writer, then this may be the perfect video conference background.
Some people think it’s cool to have pictures and souvenirs from their travels in clear view. If you work in the travel industry, these trinkets could be perfectly acceptable. Otherwise, these items could distract other participants and send them off on tangents about your travels.
Creating An Ideal Background
Long story short, it is important to have at least a somewhat professional background during your video conferences. If you are not sure if what you have is suitable, then ask a coworker or management for feedback. A smart idea is to take the time between meetings to see what the camera sees. Review an older recorded webinar and watch yourself. Is there anything in the background that makes you cringe or maybe there is something you want to add? Also, take note of how you sound and look. Could you be louder? If so, adjust your microphone or computer settings before the next meeting.
If you appear to be shrouded in shadows, then you may need to adjust. Make sure that your desk is in a part of the room that has proper overhead lighting. Even better, place your desk in front of a window so you can get natural light, which will be much more flattering. If there is no window, then find a room with walls painted in neutral and subtle colours like white or beige. You could also consider placing a plant or two behind you. Not only will this provide a nice background during your video conference, but indoor plants have also been found to boost productivity so your meeting could go smoother and all invitees could find themselves in a better mood.
It may turn out that you need a professional background but you just don’t have the right space in your home to make it happen. If that is the case, consider a virtual background. Virtual backgrounds are available on some programs, like Zoom or Skype. They can create a professional space out of thin air, and there is an almost unlimited number of options from which to choose.
To create a virtual background in MyOwnConference, you can hold videoconferences using broadcasting from OBS Studio.
If you are in a corporate atmosphere, then you can use an office background. If you have a more relaxed office, then you could use a beach or an architectural photo. A safe bet is to upload your corporate logo and put that behind you.
What You Should Never Have in Your Background
Regardless of where you work or the type of culture, there are certain features that you will never want to have in the background or even in the room during your video conferences. Obviously, you do not want to have any offensive pictures or movie posters on the wall behind you. Also, if you use a virtual background, make sure it is appropriate. Of course, never sit near the television or in a place where the camera cannot see you.
Limit distractions during your call. Keep your desk away from busy corridors and put your pets in their respective rooms during your important calls. During the height of COVID-19, when many kids were homeschooling, kids in the house while you were working were a given. However, plan for them to be occupied whenever you are in virtual meetings. Make those times homework times or nap times. And avoid getting up and leaving during the meeting as that is also distracting.
Keep your office as clean as possible and keep piles of paperwork, clothing, or other debris out of the sight of the camera. You don’t want anyone to get the impression you’re disorganized. In fact, it’s a smart idea to stay organized no matter what because workers with clean and organized workspaces are typically less stressed, as extreme disorganization can cause anxiety and even disrupt your sleep.
In the end, the best idea is to find a professional background that checks all of the boxes above and stick with it. By finding out what works, you can focus less on how you appear and more on the great work you provide.