Looking for some of the best Zoom backgrounds for your next Zoom meeting?
Whether you are working from home or socializing with family and friends, it seems that everyone is now using Zoom Video to abide by the social distancing that is the new normal. Between cooking three meals a day, entertaining your pets, home-schooling your kids and sorting Marie Kondo style, the last thing on your mind is cleaning up before powering up Zoom for your video call.
Enter the Virtual Background feature of Zoom. These free Zoom backgrounds will spruce up your home office setting and set the stage for a professional remote work experience for all of your conference calls.
If you haven’t used the virtual background setting on Zoom yet, it’s uber-easy to do. Here's the step-by-step process on how to use the best Zoom backgrounds for your calls:
Step 1: Go into Preferences/Settings of Zoom and click on “Virtual Background.”
Zoom comes with some (pretty bad) default virtual backgrounds to use. That’s where we come in. We’re going to give you quick, free and easy backgrounds to use for Zoom.
Step 2: Download the Zoom background images you like.
Explore our mini-library of some of the best Zoom backgrounds and download the ones you like for free.
Step 3: Add your background to Zoom.
Add the downloaded image to your Zoom library. To add use the + sign.
We’ve included a few living room ones, which will help establish that you are at home, but perhaps at a nicer home (or at least cleaner) than you actually have.
And we’ve tossed in a couple of fun ones if you want to show off your non-moving model roommate. Who doesn’t want to have a chiselled roommate hanging out on the couch?
Importance Of Beautiful Office Backgrounds On Zoom
Our homes are often not as well-organized as wed like them to be. If you have toddlers or if you're living alone who hasn't had the time to clean, there may be things in the background that you don't want your colleagues or clients to see. It is not exactly the ideal setup to sell oneself as being professional and trustworthy. But beautiful office background for Zoom (or Google Hangouts) solve this issue. All you have to do is pick a background you like (we've got a ton of Zoom backgrounds below that you can download for free) or have something branded that shows off your business and helps spread that extra awareness.
It's a great way to hide the mess and highlight what's important.
However, there are a couple of things to remember when setting up your personal background.
You need proper lighting.
You need to be in a very good lit room (this'll help you create a contrast between yourself and the background).
You want to reduce the distracting halo-effect that you have probably noticed in the past meetings.
Avoid having windows at your back so you do not present a dark silhouette.
Try to remain stationary. Anytime your webcam sees movement (color changes), it tries to adjust the lens creating an effect.
Avoid having people walk behind or around you.
Top Tips For Choosing A Zoom Background:
- Pick a background image that matches your personal style, or alternatively, go for something that is completely the opposite and make people smile!
- Dress for the occasion. Wear for a conference call the same outfit that you would wear to the office.
- If you can, have a solid, one-color background image behind you. What works best is if you have a light or white-colored wall or curtain behind you.
All of the background images that we have included here are tested to work with the Zoom Video Virtual Background feature. You'll notice that there are no watermarks, and that we have focused on providing realistic backgrounds. No shots of the beach, the Milky Way or sunsets here. You don't want your background to distract your colleague or potentially have a client think that you are unprofessional in any way.
Installation Tips For Your Zoom Background:
For your computer or laptop: Scroll through the images here and simply click on one to download it to your computer. Then open Zoom and add it to the Virtual Backgrounds setting.
For your iPad: over the image, tap and hold your press and select "Add to Photos". Then go to your Zoom app and in the top right corner, click on the three dots / "More". Then tap on Virtual Background. A selection and mini menu will appear along the bottom of the screen. There are usually 3 default virtual backgrounds there. None of them are appropriate to communicate a work at home setting.
Tap on the Plus (+) sign to add the background image you've downloaded from here. A "Photos" box will pop up. If you have a lot of photos on your iPad you might need to wait for a while for the preview images to load. Your most recent image/photo should appear in the bottom row.
Tap on the background image you want to use, and then tap on "Done". There you go! Now tap on the X in the top corner to get back to the main Zoom page.
For your iPhone: Yes, you can even use Virtual Backgrounds on your iPhone. Make sure the background image is saved to your Photos.
Then launch the Zoom app, sign in and start a New Meeting. You'll be the only one in the meeting. Tap on "More" and then on Virtual Backgrounds. Tap on the Plus (+) sign to add the background image.
A "Photos" box will pop up. If you have a lot of photos on your iPhone you might need to wait for a while for the preview images to load.
Your most recent image/photo should appear in the bottom row. Tap on the background image you want to use, and then tap on "Done". There you go! Leave the Meeting.
Go into Settings (of the Zoom app) and click on Meetings. Scroll down to "Keep Virtual Background For" and make sure that "All meetings" is selected.
Zoom Background Images Set Up Tips:
- Try and use natural light coming in from a window to light the front and/or side of your face. Do not have a window behind you as you will be backlit and your face will be dark and shaded.
- If you can, have a solid, one-color background behind you. What works best is if you have a light or white-colored wall or curtain behind you.
- If you can, try to match the primary color of the background image to the actual background color that will be behind you. Try them out and let us know on Instagram or Twitter, which Zoom background images you like best.
Tips For Looking Your Best On Camera:
Face the camera
You want the camera pointing directly at your face. Not from the side, or from below. Try to have the camera at the same height as your eyes. When someone has their laptop sitting on the couch cushion beside them the angle is unflattering, and unprofessional. Just don't do it!
Dress for the occasion
Wear for a conference call the same outfit that you would wear to the office.
Don't be a 'floating head'
Solve this by having your camera capture all of your face as well as your shoulders and some of your upper body. We see a lot of people leaning in too close to the camera - sometimes you can't even see their chin!
Check on your lighting
Natural light is best. But if you have a dark room, or are doing a call in the evening, position your lighting to be coming from the top, side or directly towards you. You really want to avoid having your light source come from below. Let's say you have a lamp on the floor and the light is shining on your face from below your chin -- you'll end up with an unflattering look that can be solved by simply moving your lamp.
Like your mother said, sit up straight
Consider using a pillow behind your back to support your lower back. Slouching, or laying in bed or on the couch is just not acceptable. If you don't have a desk handy, then stand up. It'll keep you focused and attentive.
Use Airpods or small bluetooth headphones
The benefit is three-fold. Firstly you will avoid hearing an echo or feedback. The microphone in your Airpods or headphones will pick up a more natural sound of your voice. And thirdly, you will look better than if you use a massive over-the-head set of wired headphones.
Wear an outfit this is a different color than the background
You are sitting in front of. The Zoom software is working to differentiate you from the background you are in front of so you'll make it a lot easier for definitive capture of your whole face and body if you aren't blending in the background color of the wall behind you!
Just like a TV News Anchor, try to maintain virtual eye contact
Look directly into the camera lens, especially when others are talking. And of course, when you are talking. Looking at the camera communicates that you are listening to the person speaking. And looking at the camera when you are speaking helps you communicate your message to the person on the other side of the camera.
Here are some of the best Zoom backgrounds including professional home office backgrounds that you can use for your Zoom virtual background. Plus two backgrounds that are just for your friends. You'll know them when you see them.
This minimalist home office backdrop by Samantha Gades is one of our favorite Zoom Virtual Backgrounds that we highly recommend:
These next two background shots are of the same livingroom. Add realism to your background by interchanging these from day to day!
These last two are just for laughs. Not recommended for work conference calls, but rather for close friends who will share a laugh with you about your model roommates:
14 Professionals Share Their Top Tips for Video-Conferencing From Home
2020 changed the world and how we communicate for good. Face-to-face conversations went behind the screen in a matter of days. Be it business or personal, people started connecting with each other through video-conferencing tools. We reached out to professionals and entrepreneurs across industries to find out their top tips for video conferencing from home. From lighting to wifi, and more, find helpful pointers to make your video-conferencing profile more professional.
Let's dive in!
In thinking about the hundreds of video calls I’ve been on, this week alone, there are a few givens - have a professional background, be clean, be dressed, and focus on the call you’re on. After that, my biggest tip would be to manage the mute!
When you get on, make sure you’re not muted. There is nothing more frustrating than getting onto a call to see the person on the other end gesturing wildly because they can’t hear you, or you pose a question and get back silence, and when the other person realizes their volume is off, they’ve lost their point.
Similarly, if you’re not speaking, go ahead and mute, but make sure to remember you’ve done it! And make sure any extraneous devices have been muted. In today’s times, when families are working in shared space, muting is welcome. To quote a colleague:
“not muting your microphone is the new reply all.”
When video conferencing, you really want to avoid being in a dimly lit room (which can result in a poor, grainy video quality) or using harsh, artificial lighting (which emphasizes shadows and can be unflattering as well as make you look tired).
If possible, try to set your office or makeshift desk in a quiet, well-lit area of your home. The more natural light you can access, the better. Ideally, position your computer in a window sill or right in front of a large window, with your computer’s camera lens facing inwards so that your face is being lit by the natural sunlight.
Natural lighting is much more flattering and will do wonders for your video presentation skills. Plus, being near natural light is generally better for your psychological mindset, especially with so many of us being trapped inside all day.
Just like when you are in an in-person meeting with a group, you should really focus on listening and being engaged. This way the meeting stays efficient, people are listening and only speaking when there is something of benefit to be mentioned. By trying to multi-task or zone out during a video conference you are not only wasting your time, but the rest of your teams. This type of behavior is pretty easy to spot also - so please do your best to stay engaged!
Most remote workers don't know that they can combine their wired Internet line with the Internet connection in their cell phones to create a single aggregated faster and more robust Internet connection. This technology is called Broadband Bonding. Remote workers can plug in their wired Internet line such as DSL, Cable modem or fiber into a home office version of a broadband bonding router and then set their cell phone in personal hotspot mode so that the broadband bonding router can connect to it wirelessly.
With this method, the home network will have two connections to the Internet, namely the traditional wired Internet service and the Internet connection in their sim card and the two Internet connections can be aggregated for a single faster and more reliable connection. Some broadband bonding routers further support optimizations for live video applications which will further improve video conferencing quality and fidelity.
One thing that people neglect to pay enough attention to before they participate in a video call is the background. You want to find a spot without a lot of distractions or large objects hovering over your head. And if there are windows, make sure they are covered with blinds so you don't have a lot of backlight.
You want the viewer to focus on you, so make sure that what is behind you is neat and not too cluttered. I've noticed that a lot of people position themselves in front of a bookcase, which can communicate that are are well-read, but is the bookcase orderly? If there are books packed into every open spot or if there are too many trinkets, this can be distracting for the viewer or give the impression of disorder.
Once you have created an orderly background, position yourself so the viewer can see you from the shoulders up, and your head is centred in the screen, or slightly higher.
One thing I think people don't realize is just how resource-intensive video conferencing can be, especially in HD. If you're experiencing choppy video or audio, or others are saying your own quality is choppy, it may be because you don't have the bandwidth to spare.
Use a site to check your current internet speed before you start a video conference. You need about 1 to 1.5 mbps to have a decent experience, and that's with only one person in the conference. If your whole team is joining in, add another 1mbps per person, which can quickly put a strain on your internet.
Next, check your network usage. On a Windows PC you can do this through the task manager. See what's taking up the most bandwidth and ideally pause or stop the process before your conference. After that, check all devices connected to your network. Make sure your phone is off wifi, double check to see if anyone else is streaming something, and try to isolate internet usage as much as possible for the best conference quality.
Make sure nobody is using the microwave in your home when you are video conferencing.
Microwaves interfere with WiFi signals because physically they are the same thing. Both produce electromagnetic waves with frequencies around 2.4GHz. The microwave door should theoretically block the majority of the radiation but the fact is there are always leaks and because the amplitude of these waves is much higher than those emitted by your WiFi router, it can lead to a loss of connection.
One option is to make sure your router and workstation are further away from the microwave if it is going to be used while you are working and taking video calls. Another option is to connect to your router using an ethernet port instead, then you won't be using WiFi so it won't be a problem.
If you are experiencing drop-outs it may be a result of your neighbour's microwave if they are in close proximity. If you are generally having a bad experience with video calls over Wifi, switch to a hard-wired Ethernet connection and it should lead to a smoother experience.
When video-conferencing from your home virtually, you need to keep in mind audio quality. Using your computer or phone audio is not good enough to wow everyone listening and will usually have a scratchy and unfocused quality. Instead invest in an inexpensive usb computer connected microphone and your audio and presentation quality will increase exponentially. Many people don't realize how much audio affects the overall feel or quality of their video-conference presence, but it actually makes a very big difference and makes you sound much more professional when it's high-quality.
Don't skimp on audio. I only have one good ear, and so maybe I'm more sensitive to bad audio than most people. It's frustrating and a waste of time to continually ask people to repeat themselves when they sound muffled or like they're in a tunnel. Webcams are great for video, but universally bad for audio.
I spent $100 for a nice Blue Yeti mic and it turned out to be a great investment. This is not an endorsement, just a note that I've had great success with this mic. I'm sure there are other quality mics available. The problem with the Blue Yeti mic is, it's too big to take on the road, and I cringe every time I have to depend on an integrated laptop audio or other cheap mic.
I started working from home one day in 1993 when a snowstorm backed up all the roads between home and the office. I dialed into the office with one phone line and worked a customer problem with the other phone line, and before I knew it, I had handled the customer issue and the workday was over. But I didn't need to drive home from work because I was already home.
Ten years later, I pioneered long distance meetings between military families here in Minnesota and loved ones serving our country in Iraq, sometimes in front of thousands of people, and a few times in the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce meeting room. But when I pitched using VPNs and video for business to Chamber members around 2005, objections flew fast and furious. I imagine if I had told them to get ready for a global pandemic coming in 15 years, they would have laughed me out of the room.
The direction where you point your video conferencing camera matters. Head: Watch your head space. Adjust the camera to properly frame you from slightly below the shoulders to the top of your head. Make sure there isn’t a lot of space above your head to keep the focus on your face. Adjust your laptop screen or web cam until the top of your head barely touches the top of the screen in the video image of you that's projected into the conference. Cutting off a little bit of the top of your head is better than a lot of empty space above it. NOSE: Place your
camera or laptop directly at eye level or slightly higher. You don’t want people looking up your nostrils. Eyes: Look AT the camera, NOT the screen. People tend to either look at themselves when on a video conference call or they look at others on the screen. Webcams are typically right above the screen so to appear like you’re looking at your audience, keep your gaze above the screen and look directly into the camera. If your eyes are looking elsewhere you can look bored and distracted.
Video conferencing is a big part of life as an author and an illustrator. Whether that's casually chatting with other business professionals, giving virtual lessons, or speaking to large groups at events, the biggest and best thing anyone can do for at-home video conferencing is to research and invest in proper stage lighting to ensure that they and their background are properly lit.
Nothing's worse than an unclear, sun-glaring, or dark and dingy screen! Proper lighting is especially important if you'll be showcasing a product or giving a live demonstration of something. Luckily, there are a plethora of Youtubers out there handing out solid advice on what sort of equipment to get; but I've personally found that just a basic trio of softbox lights does the trick!
One method to try is called Three-Point Lighting. In this set-up, you'll be positioned in front of the camera and will have a light on each side of you (one at full intensity and the other at around half). The last light will be set to a low-intensity, in the back. This will help you achieve more depth and will give your video a much more professional and dynamic look.
My top tip about video conferencing from home is to treat each call as a mini photoshoot and set up your visual presentation to provide the best visual communications impact. You know what they say: a picture tells a thousand words. So, assume that a video conference call must say a million words about you. So much of our human communication is nonverbal (about 90%) and while our colleagues, managers or clients will listen to what we say, they will form opinions based on what they see.
Your technology should be working well of course and you want to use a webcam that you can adjust so that you can create the right visual impression. Make sure that you set the shot up so that you are not super close up and rigidly straight on at the camera. If you are too close you might look magnified without any context clues in the background, but set your background so that it simple but uses contrasting colors and objects that do not blend into your head.
Research indicates that the left side of the human face is generally more appealing to others than the right side so adjust your eye level camera to create a slight profile. Think of it as a headshot, you want to frame your upper body not zoom in on your eyeballs. However, do use your eyes to look at those you are speaking to. Do not stare at your monitor or the other visuals on the screen.
You also want to pay attention to your lighting, practicing until you are certain that there are no odd facial shadows. Practice managing your shoulders hands, and arms and don't forget to smile. Your resting whatever face is not your most attractive.
If you regularly conduct video conferences with colleagues or third party vendors, it's important to present yourself in a professional manner. That means the person on the other side of the camera shouldn't be staring at beer signs, piles of laundry or your closet. That's a surefire way to lose a sale or promotion. It just gives off a vibe that you don't take pride in your job.
As a hiring manager, I can personally tell you that I'm turned off when I video conference with someone who doesn't take pride in their work environment. Instead, use a bookshelf or credenza behind your desk to display any awards, certifications, degrees or books related to your job. This will subtly tell the person you're conferencing with that you're an accomplished professional and serious about your position.
This will not only help make a good impression on your manager or boss, but it may also help you close an important deal.
My best tip would be to consider your camera angle. For the most part when video conferencing, especially when using a laptop, the camera itself is below your face pointing upward. This is wrong. You should raise your camera lens to either to eye level or slightly higher than eye level by a couple of inches maximum. Camera angles that are higher (or from above) are more flattering to those on screen generally.
When you position your camera lower than eye level (or otherwise from below shooting up), it makes you look intimidating and sinister. In the movies, low angles are used to signal superiority and power and are often used when showing the villain and other “bad guys” on screen. All are things you want to avoid conveying in your business meetings when teleconferencing. Additionally, no one wants to look up your nose through the entire meeting because your camera is shooting up your nose.
It’s not a flattering look for anyone. Eye-level angles are neutral, so that angle neither communicates superiority or inferiority and this should be your first choice of camera angle for your camera angle.
You can also choose to slightly raise the camera above eye-level just a small amount. Camera angles that look down can communicate vulnerability generally, making it easier to speak freely. You don’t want the camera to be too high up shooting down very far because in the movies that camera angle projects weakness.
You can get away with a little bit of a downward angle, but not a lot. You don’t want to appear meek, weak or inferior on camera during your business meetings. You want to be on a relatively equal footing.
These are just a few tips to improve your presentation when on a video call. Do you have any special tips that have helped you improve your video-conferencing? Share them with us!