Let's face it: With the way scientists are predicting things to go, social distancing will probably be our new normal for quite some time. As you get used to working from home and having team meetings through your Zoom account, why not switch things up a bit?Signing into video chats from the same chair in front of the same white wall can get boring. But with a few tricks, you can create Zoom video backgrounds that make it look like you've been working from home for years.
While Zoom lets you change your own virtual background right within the app, sometimes business meetings call for something a little different than a green-screen backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. "Setting up a home video conference is like staging a photograph," Hillary Cohen, founder and interior designer at hCO Interiors, tells Bustle. "Lighting and a balanced composition are two of the major factors." In other words, before joining a Zoom call, make sure you're centered in the frame and have enough light to show your face clearly. While focusing on these two components isn't the only way you can improve your Zoom video backgrounds, it's definitely a good start.
Here are seven other ways you can amp up your Zoom video background:
1. Hang Up A Tapestry
Take it back to the days of being a freshman in college, living in a dorm. Whether it's a solid color or funky design, tapestries are a fun way to spice up the background of your Zoom videos chats. You can find tapestries online at Amazon, Etsy, and Target, among other retailers. And the great thing about tapestries is that you can hang them over practically any flat surface. Hang them up on any wall or even over a door.
2. Get A Bulletin Board
A bulletin board helps create the feeling of a designated workplace. Set aside a corner of the room, hang up a bulletin board, and post all of your important memos on it. It'll look like you have a cute little office space for yourself on camera, and makes it easier to separate what area is for work and what area is for relaxation. You can hang up a calendar, sticky notes with this month's goals, a to-do list, and even pictures of you and your friends to add a personal touch.
3. Place Lamps At Both Sides Of Your Desk
Lifesize, a video and audio telecommunications company, suggests using multiple light sources during video calls in the same way photographers do to create ideal lighting. If you're working later hours in the night and can't rely on natural light, use multiple lamps to bring more light into the room during your Zoom video calls. "It is important that you are the focus, so you should be centered on the screen and your face should be well lit," Cohen, an interior designer, says. Placing lamps at both sides of your desk is kind of like creating your own ring light, and can help bring more attention to your face.
4. Sit Facing A Window
Natural light is a great way to lift the ambiance of a room. Although you might be tempted to sit with your back to a window, that can cast a shadow on your face making it difficult for others in the video chat to see you clearly. "If you have a bright light shining from behind you it can be very distracting," Cohen says. Instead, sit facing toward the window, the same way you would when taking a selfie. Your video feed will come out brighter and (if you're sleepy) it'll help you look more awake.
5. Tidy Up
This may go without saying, but cleaning up your room before Zoom calls can make a huge difference in what your video call looks like. "Keep the area behind you free of clutter," Cohen says. "You want to be the focus and not a bunch of small frames or papers behind you." Plus, if your room is clean, you're likely to feel more organized yourself, making for a less stressful call.
6. Add An Object To The Background
While your instinct may be to move any objects or furniture out of shot for your video calls, Cohen says you don't have to necessarily do this. "Simple shapes of everyday objects make the best background," Cohen says. "A vase of flowers or a lamp (that is not turned on) create a sense of depth but they are basic enough to not be a distraction."
7. Use Your Bookshelf
According to Curbed, a real estate and urban design blog network, using any bookshelf you have as a backdrop for Zoom calls can be a great touch. Not only will it highlight your collection, but it's also a subtle way to create the appearance of a workspace even from home. You might even spark up a conversation about one of titles behind you.