Brand and Connect
You wouldn’t serve your friends food on a piece of paper towel saying “here, eat.” You wouldn’t sit your clients in an empty waiting room. You wouldn’t ignore LinkedIn profiles or business cards. So why are you ignoring your background on your video calls?
Pay attention to that blank space behind you! That's where people are looking during the call, it's setting the tone, and becoming part of your brand as much as any marketing you're doing.
A boring wall isn't “professional” and isn’t building trust. It’s cold, boring, and shows you put no thought at all into what the other person is experiencing. You’re better than that!
But I Got Background
Maybe you're thinking to yourself "I use that virtual background option, so I don't need to worry about my real life background."
Sorry that’s just not cutting it. If you need to use that once in a great while that's ok, but it’s unstable on the areas surrounding the most important thing: you! It also uncomfortable and difficult to look at. People don’t like being uncomfortable. If you're on a sales call or trying to build trust a virtual background won't cut it.
If you’re trying to project a safe environment, you’re missing out, too. Using that background only looks like you’re hiding something behind a curtain of technology.
Level up! Get a real background!
Set the Stage at Your Desk
If you video call in from a desk top computer, invest some money in two things:
1) a simple light source that can be adjusted to fully light your face no matter what time of day or the weather
2) Art to hang behind you for others on your call to see
After you invest in some Art and have a simple light ring to light up your beautiful face, take a look at what people are seeing when they talk with you. Be set manager and director and do some practice runs. Turn on your camera, take screenshots of your video, save them, and then look at them objectively. Is the camera at eye level? How is the light? How does the art look? Are you projecting the feeling that you want to?
Shift things until you get them right, then keep things set up that way, or mark and make note of where things are positioned so you can easily set it up perfectly for your next call.
Make A Mobile Video Set
If you’re on a laptop, tablet, or phone trying to find a quiet corner of your house or apartment to video call from, you can still have a beautiful background.
It's likely you need to move from room to room for quiet and privacy depending on who else is home and what activities they're doing.
To start use an ultra portable desk you can move to any room, even in small spaces. There's a great and very affordable desk that goes by another name: an ironing board! Easy to store no matter how limited the space, fast and easy height adjustment, and light and easy to move and set up even in small areas.
Next, light source. With the desk able to move so easily, you can angle to face a window (during the day), near a lamp, or you can use a simple portable light ring that lights your face.
Pick three places that are go-to spots, add Art in the background, do some dry runs taking screenshots of your video feed and adjust til it's great.
You know you'll sometimes need to take calls in your bedroom for example. Pick a wall or corner for the camera to face that doesn't show your bed but instead shows art, even if it's just part of it. Keep a chair available nearby, toss a throw blanket on the back to make it feel and look better. Use that ironing board desk to get angles just right.
Check your living room situation and choose two or three spots that will work (it's good to have options). Since it's a larger room, notice ALL of what is showing in the background. Make sure there are larger pieces of art for people to see.
For example in my living room I have a spot that works when the sun is up and one that's better even when it's dark out. Now I know how to get them set up in about 4 minutes.
As always they include Art.
This Isn't Hollywood
Doing these simple things doesn’t mean that every video call you'll look like you’re a movie star. We're not even saying you need your hair and makeup done.
That’s ok! It's even more reason to let people know you’ve thought about their experience on the call and want to show you value them and yourself by having beautiful art.
There is an informal 5 AM call that I’m on. The lights, heat, and chairs don’t quite line up in the morning. but i’m working on it. But regardless of how I look for that particular early morning call, I have beautiful art in the background.
It’s wonderful to hear people say I love that. Oh those blues! Or to have my clients contact me and say “people LOVE your artwork…I was on a call the other day and so many people commented on how they loved the artwork!"
Art is a point of connection without being revealing. Professional without being compromising.
How do you connect with people online?