Tips and tricks to create a professional space in the comfort of your bedroom
About six months ago, an app many of us had never used or even heard of before became the very thing that kept us afloat (and still is the thing keeping us afloat): Zoom.
Though Zoom works great for keeping in touch with friends and family, many of us are stuck at home for school and/or work and have been forced to adapt to this online medium in place of a professional setting. And while those closest to you might be able to tolerate your messy bedroom, it’s not something you want a professor or potential boss to see.
Zoom enables its users to choose a background that will hide your mess or simply elevate the level of professionalism for an interview or meeting. By taking into consideration things like how busy or realistic a background is and lighting, you’ll be able to find a background that suits a professional setting and leaves you feeling more confident on camera.
Not only can a Zoom background bring a greater sense of professionalism to a meeting or interview, it can also give you a greater sense of comfort. It’s all too common on Zoom for someone to walk into the frame, especially if you don’t have your own space. Nobody wants their roommate, sibling or parent randomly entering the frame while you’re in the middle of answering a question, but at times it’s unavoidable. By utilizing a Zoom background, the worry of a potential visual interruption is gone and there is a greater sense of control throughout the call, putting you at ease.
There are many things to consider when picking a Zoom background, one of them being as simple as hair color. In an article written by Chariti Canny, she suggests that Zoom users should use contrast to their advantage, hair color being one of them.
For example, dark hair and dark walls don’t work well together because the two risk blending together because of their similar color. The same goes for blonde hair in bright rooms.
Remember, the goal is for you to stand out. Even if you dyed your hair neon green, princess pink or baby blue in quarantine, you still need to consider a background that won’t clash or blend in with your hair so that the focus remains on you.
Something else to consider when choosing a Zoom background is how busy, colorful or realistic the background is. In a professional setting, the focus will be on you, ideas or information, and a background that is unrealistic or silly, such as an image of crashing waves and swaying palm trees, will draw attention away from the main focus and reflect poorly on your professionalism. For most professions, personal photos or colorful artwork would not be appropriate for a meeting or interview.
After finding a background that compliments your hair color and clothing while remaining neutral and professional, it’s important to analyze whether the background fits the situation.
In an article on TechRepublic written by Teena Maddox, she suggests using backgrounds that have depth and perspective, such as libraries or living rooms. Here is a list of photos for inspiration. Every photo on the list can be used for realistic Zoom backgrounds.
Once you find the perfect setting, another important thing to consider is lighting. The Zoom Help Center suggests an area that is neither too dark nor too light, otherwise the background will not show up properly on your screen.
In addition to enhancing the quality of your background, good lighting also affects the way you are seen on camera. Lighting that is too dark or overexposed can be distracting, especially in a professional, one-on-one situation.
After selecting a few photos and downloading them to your computer for easy access, taking a few minutes in the Zoom app to test your various backgrounds and adjust the lighting in your preferred meeting space is an important step to take so that you’re ready for your next call.
Though Zoom backgrounds can be helpful in creating a more professional space when the situation calls for it, they’re also a great source of entertainment when simply goofing off with friends. So in the midst of choosing your perfect professional background, don’t forget to have some fun as well.