How to set up a professional video conferencing background

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You know how to look good on video calls. But what does your video conference background say about you? You could look like a movie star on camera, but what goes behind your back (literally!) could harm your professionalism and credibility.

Here are some tips to set up the best background for video conferencing and show that you take the conversations seriously. 

1. Get the lighting right

Proper lighting makes your shot look professional and composed. Natural light from a window during the day may suffice. Otherwise, set up even and diffused lighting for your video conferencing background but avoid too much light from behind, which can cast you into a shadow. 

A desk lamp can give your shot a nice touch, but don't turn it on because it may make one side of your face too bright and the other too dark. In general, avoid direct lighting that creates too much contrast, which can throw off the camera's light sensor and the shot's exposure.

2. Keep the background neutral

While your background doesn't have to be boring, it shouldn't become a distraction either. Keep your video conference background tidy and avoid cluttering it with too many personal items — although you can include a couple as conversation starters to help you break the ice, build rapport, and add color to your personality.

3. Deliver an on-brand experience

If you're on a client call, ensure your video conferencing background aligns with your company's brand image. Use GoTo Meeting to set up a professional branded meeting room to start every call with the best first impression and customize your background to stay on-brand no matter where you are.

4. Decorate the background intentionally

If you have a shelf or bookcase in the background, you can display personal or professional awards or certifications to build instant credibility. You may put a whiteboard behind you with notes for the meeting or product samples relevant to the conversation at a visible and easy-to-reach spot.

5. Point the camera away from doors and windows

You can't control what happens outside a window, or someone may inadvertently walk through the door, creating unwanted distractions. Also, if you sit in front of a window, the backlighting may shift and cast you in a shadow. It's best to position your back against a wall to avoid any movement in the background.

6. Optimize the webcam position

There should be three to eight feet between you and the backdrop to create depth while keeping your face as the focus. Position the webcam at or slightly above eye level and leave enough space between the camera and your face to avoid distortion. 

7. Keep mobile meetings distraction-free

What about the video conference background while you're on the go? A moving backdrop is distracting while fluctuating connectivity can disrupt the experience. Use GoTo Meeting's commuter mode to simplify your user-experience. You can rely on our automatic bandwidth adjustment feature to make every call seamless from anywhere.

8. Designate a video conference spot

Set aside an area where you can permanently set up your video conference background to avoid scrambling every time you get on a call. If you don't feel like decorating or cleaning up the space behind you, use a fabric or paper backdrop you can wheel in or pull down at a moment's notice.

9. Use the webcam preview feature

Most video conferencing tools allow you to preview how you appear on camera before joining a call. Don't just focus on yourself! Check the background to ensure everything appears on camera as intended. Call in a few minutes early to leave enough time to make last minutes adjustments.

10. Be prepared, and don't fret!

After you have set up the video conferencing background, take the focus back to yourself for a moment — make sure that you're dressed appropriately and have your notes ready for the conversation. Don't keep checking your background while on a video call! Instead, pay attention to the attendees and maintain eye contact. 

Don't fret if something doesn't go according to plan (like your toddler somehow manages to open the door and guest stars in the background) — stay confident and keep your focus on the conversation... now that's professionalism!

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