Virtual Background Do’s and Don’ts

Oct 19, 2020

With typically in-person meetings largely online these days, it can be difficult to set the stage for a successful meeting. While you can create an ambiance with lighting, music, staging, etc. in person, can that be replicated online? Is a virtual background tacky or useful? We believe that, if done right, virtual backgrounds can aid in creating that desired ambiance that seems out of reach in an online environment. There are certainly right and wrong ways to go about this.

When choosing a virtual background, there are default options in almost every meeting application. A quick google search should yield a wide range of options for you. Canva even has customizable templates to make the background your own. Unless you have a stunning call setting, we encourage the use of backgrounds for a clean slate, and to minimize distraction. Is there a possibility your cat may be roaming around in the background? Do your kids pop into your office here and there? What about traffic in the window behind you? These are all settings where a virtual background will indeed give you control over the ambiance of your call and minimize distractions.

Background Do’s

  • Pay attention to your lighting

  • Try out your background before your call begins

  • Test the boundaries of how close/far your background will work effectively

The lighting in your space may not work the same with every background. Take some time to do a test run of your background before starting your call to have a good idea of what you will be working with. With certain colors/backgrounds, you will want to be closer or farther away from the camera. Minimize the urge to make adjustments during your call by setting aside a few minutes before your call to make sure everything is exactly to your liking.

Background Don’ts

  • Pick a busy/distracting background

  • Wear an outfit that is too similar to your chosen background

  • Choose a background that may be considered offensive or inappropriate

While there are some tempting backgrounds that are very intricate to choose from, the more simple, the better in terms of you being the center of attention. Think of how distracting a poster on the wall is if the pattern is fascinating. This is exactly what you will be competing with when your viewers are met with a busy background. Keep in mind the outfit you intend to wear while choosing your background. Is your background yellow? Is your shirt yellow? Probably not a great combination. Test out your background with a few different colors to find the one that will compliment your background while also allowing you to stand out in the right way. Finally, don’t let your background do the talking for you. If the topic on which you are speaking is controversial, let your presentation be the place to dive into those waters. An inappropriate background can be equated to passive aggression. It is not a professional way of dealing with controversy.

Whatever your presentation needs, Ethos3 understands that, as Bob Dylan would say… “times they are a-changin’”. Stay on top of the ever-changing online landscape by reaching out to one of our world-class presentation coaches today with any questions or concerns. No matter how big or small, we’d love to hear your story and see how we might compliment it.

By Mimi Johnson