I’m pretty sure most of you will have installed the videoconferencing app Zoom by now. If you haven’t, these excellent instructions from Janet Donbavand of JMD Training will guide you. On calls, you may have seen friends or colleagues with unusual backgrounds behind them. How do you make these backgrounds – and should you use them for work meetings?
How to make a Zoom background for your desktop computer
Open the Zoom app and click on the ’New Meeting’ button. A window will open showing you in front of the ‘real’ background behind you. The walls of my studio are white, and I have my back to the wall, so my actual background is pretty unobtrusive.
Many of you will not be lucky enough to be in your work environment, and your viewers may be able to see your kitchen, your son’s bedroom, a messy scene or something equally inappropriate. You can either put a physical screen behind you or make a Zoom background.
Hover your cursor near the bottom of the Zoom window. You’ll see a little arrow next to the Stop/Start Video icon. Click on this, and scroll down to Choose Virtual Background.
The Settings window should open. If it’s not already selected, click on Virtual Background and choose one that you like (my version of Zoom has 6 default photos or videos). A preview will appear showing you what the background will look like.
If you don’t like any of those, you can click the little + button under the preview to select one of your own images. This will open a window where you can browse to select the file you want.
Pros and cons
Some of the backgrounds, like the Northern Lights and beach scene videos, are rather fun, and work well when you’re talking to your friends or family. They are quite distracting though, and would detract from a work meeting.
The plainer backgrounds work better.
If you have long hair, Zoom finds it difficult to isolate your silhouette, sometimes cropping off more than is desirable.
Sometimes, if you move about, parts of your image can disappear.
With a Zoom background, you can have your brand colours or logo behind you.
You can see below the results of my experiments. I like using Zoom backgrounds when I’m talking to friends and family, but stick to the plain white background when I’m on work calls.
Video conferencing quick tips
If you feel uncomfortable with video conferencing, these quick tips from keynote speaker and journalist Penny Haslam may help.
About the author
Annette Peppis leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to her bi-monthly emails.