With working from home as the new normal, virtual meetings are a daily occurrence. If you’re in the camp of leisurewear under the desk and office wear on the screen, you’re not alone. It’s an easy habit to fall into.
Virtual backgrounds are your friend. If you’re unsure of the best way to make your virtual background professional, read on. Coming up are our five tips that focus on projecting the most polished image to enhance your long-term remote work strategy. Firstly, though…
What Are Virtual Backgrounds?
Virtual backgrounds are simulated environments that appear behind a video meeting attendee. Some types of virtual backgrounds include location images, office simulations, and fun virtual reality scenes.
Why Use Virtual Backgrounds?
Virtual backgrounds are great for providing a neutral backdrop for your hybrid workforce. Without virtual backgrounds, it’s easy to become distracted during video meetings with team members’ home lives. The best virtual background benefits include:
- Maintaining a professional appearance
- Minimizing distractions
- Keeping your private spaces private
Clever Tip #1: Consider the Contrast
Before choosing your virtual background, it’s best to manipulate your existing background so that you stand out from it. Think about the following:
- Your hair color
- Noticeable colors behind you
- If the back of your office chair is visible on screen
To ensure that your virtual background works well, play around with wearing different color combinations to enable the virtual background to hold shape around you. Always avoid wearing dark colored clothes with dark virtual backgrounds. The color of your virtual background has a major impact on whether the cutout stays firm during your meeting. Gradient backgrounds can work well and come across as professional.
Think about wearing solid color combinations, as patterns and busy graphics can be distracting on screen. Another consideration is the lighting in your room. Light sources behind you create shadows, and overhead lights are the culprit of glare. Test your lighting and move your desk around if necessary for the optimal lighting position.
A top tip is to position a softly lit lamp in front of you or purchase an LED ring light for consistent lighting in your virtual meetings.
Clever Tip #2: Quality Is Key
For your virtual background to appear as professional as possible, you want to ensure that the image you choose is of HD quality. It’s tricky to have intelligent customer conversations with a diabolical blurry image behind you. Especially if your customers are distracted during the call by trying to figure out what the picture is.
Whether you like solid color backgrounds, nature scenes, or meeting room images, search online for the highest quality. In addition to quality images, size matters. The ideal virtual background for most video conferencing software services is 1920 x 1080 pixels, as other dimensions can cause cropping problems. There are plenty of virtual background templates online to customize and make your own.
Equipment quality counts, too. Regardless of whether you’re using your phone camera or computer, check that the lens is clear from smudges and unobstructed. Higher quality cameras mean a better virtual background, so consider using an external webcam for a more professional appearance online.
Clever Tip #3: Avoid Visual Noise
We could talk about distracting audio noise during virtual calls, but that’s another blog topic entirely!
This tip looks at how loud in color or pattern your virtual background is. If you choose a virtual background that’s heavy on the detail, you’re not going to stand out on your screen. There are plenty of free images available to use, but it’s a good idea to choose one that won’t detract from your presence during virtual meetings.
Think about the kind of impression you want to make to your colleagues and other meeting attendees. Harry Potter might be a fun virtual background, but not ideal if you’re attending a serious business meeting.
The main thing to think about is to choose a realistic virtual background that is appropriate for your work meetings.
Clever Tip #4: Branding
Consider incorporating your business logo onto your virtual background for a great touch of professionalism. In addition, you can use matching brand color palettes and fonts to help grow your digital presence during virtual meetings. For example, if your business includes a tagline explaining reasons to integrate VPN services, you can add this to your background.
Adding images, logos, and text to your virtual background work as long as they are clear, identifiable, and are a positive addition to your image. Anything you add to boost your brand’s image must complement the background and not cause distractions. For meetings with a large number of attendees, it’s a good idea to add names to team members’ virtual backgrounds to avoid lengthy introductions.
Pro Tip: If your chosen background image includes text, uncheck the mirror my video option in your video conferencing software dashboard.
Clever Tip #5: A Green Screen
To get the most from your professional virtual background, use a green screen. Using a green screen works to detect the difference between you and your background, and maximizes the performance of the virtual background feature. For instance, a green screen-enabled virtual background is perfect for corporate meetings when you need a clear, crisp backdrop to demonstrate your business’s best enterprise phone system features.
Video conferencing software is designed to work optimally with a green screen and a virtual background. You don’t need to go ahead and purchase a special green screen for your video calls, however. Green sheets or tablecloths work just as well once hung up in the right location. Ensure that you select I have a green screen in your video conferencing software dashboard when selecting your virtual background.
If you’d rather not use a green screen or alternative, choose a background that is matt and non-reflective.
How to Choose a Virtual Background Image
Choosing the best professional virtual background image can be tricky. Check out the following suggestions to set your own polished image that represents your business and brand.
Bookcases add an element of depth and interest to your background while remaining professional.
Smart patios, gardens, and nature scenes are something a little different without losing the business touch.
Iconic and smart home offices, kitchens, and living rooms add a sense of style to your appearance.
The standard rules for virtual background image specifications include:
- Landscape aspect
- Under 5MB in size
- JPG/JPEG, 24-bit PNG or GIF file formats
- Aspect ratio of 16:9
Bear in mind that different video conferencing software requirements may vary.
General Video Meeting Appearance Tips
Whichever virtual background you choose, there are a few common virtual communication standards to abide by:
Having your phone or computer at eye level during video calls is crucial. You may need to rest your laptop or computer on a stack of books, so experiment with the optimal height. For phone call video conferencing, pop your phone up against something solid so that it remains upright.
Ensure that your posture during video calls is good, and try not to fidget too much. If there’s too much movement, you might create a halo effect on the screen with your virtual background. Leave handling your business texting services tasks for non meeting occasions.
Talk to the Camera
Rather than talking to the person on the screen, aim your focus at the camera to make better eye contact and a more professional appearance. In addition, position your camera from your ribcage to above the top of your head for the best angle.
Wearing your hair down can cast shadows on your face, so how you wear your hair may have an impact on your video screen appearance.
Tempting as it is to remain in your pajamas for video calls, it’s important to make the effort to dress the part. You’ll feel much more confident and in work mode if you choose your outfit to reflect your professional image.
Light from your computer screen has the potential to highlight your face a little too much. To avoid this, reduce your computer screen brightness and instead use other light sources to your advantage.
It’s a Wrap
Before you join your next virtual meeting, start a meeting with yourself as the only attendee, and apply your chosen virtual background. Move around a little and see how your virtual background responds and moves around you. This gives you insight into what the other meeting attendees see from their perspectives and allows you to make changes to your clothing color or virtual background settings.
While not an issue for onsite teams in flexible office spaces, for remote workers virtual backgrounds add an element of personality to your virtual meetings. And it’s possible to have a professional meeting background with a hint of fun, depending on how you’d like to be viewed on-screen.
Chances are, you probably don’t always need to use a virtual background for meetings. But on the days when your house is overdue a tidy, or your kids are wandering about, having the perfect professional virtual background at your fingertips is ideal.
Want to learn more about how to make remote work productive and convenient? Learn the different ways we can help through our workspace solutions.
Guest Author Bio: Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad remote phone system, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace Lau also published articles for domains such as Emerging EdTech and Virtual Vocations. Here is her LinkedIn.