Video meetings have become firmly entrenched in daily life as government guidelines continue to ask people to work from home where possible. Typically we’re having at least two video calls a day, either with colleagues, line managers or clients.
Even when people do start to return to the office, it’s likely that some face-to-face meetings will be replaced by Zoom or Teams calls as we can all recognise the travel time and cost saving benefits. So, how much effort are you making to the way you appear on camera? There’s more to it than just brushing your hair and putting on a shirt!
Recent research carried out by signs.com has some interesting insights on video call backgrounds:
Blank wall – over 40% of us deliberately choose to have a blank wall behind us to prevent any distractions for the viewer(s), but research reveals that this makes us appear less intelligent, trustworthy or professional than any other background!
Plants – A/B testing of different backgrounds with the same models revealed that people with indoor plants in their background were perceived as the most intelligent, approachable and trustworthy.
Bookshelf – Having a bookshelf in your background creates the most professional image, but you need to be aware of the types of books on display as people will look (and judge!)
Candles – Whilst better than a blank wall in terms of making you appear trustworthy and approachable, having too many candles in the background doesn’t create the most professional image.
Windows and natural light – The majority of respondents agreed that being close to a window to create some natural light on camera really improves your appearance on a video call. It also helps to increase perceptions of trust, intelligence and approachability.
So, making a few small changes could make a huge difference to the impression you are making. Look at what’s behind you – can you move to be in front of a bookcase? Is there somewhere you could display a house plant or two? What can you do about lighting? Is there somewhere else in your house that is more aesthetically pleasing for you to take video calls?
None of this takes much effort, but it can have a real impact on the people you’re talking to. Go ahead and stage it!