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You’ve probably seen some odd things during video conferences. You may have even done some odd things during video conferences.
Now that we’ve moved all our meetings from offices and conference rooms to our laptops, there are still some things to think about.
A big one is the backdrop for your meetings.
The people on Zoom with you are looking at more than your face during those virtual meetings. Everything about you sends a message. And so does everything around you.
Fortunately, most of us aren’t likely to wind up as fodder for twitter’s Room Rater.
We’ve scrambled to make our living rooms, home offices and kitchen tables presentable for our meetings with colleagues or customers. Yes, we can assume that our meeting-mates notice that poster on the wall behind us. The family photos. And the books on our shelves.
There’s more pressure, though, for the pundits, politicians, and celebrities we watch on TV.
You can tell it’s been a stretch for some of them, moving out of the studio where they had multiple cameras, perfect lighting, and a make-up artist to doll them up before they went live.
Now they’re at home in their den, talking to their iPad, with the whole world watching.
And that whole world includes the Room Rater, one Claude Taylor, who’s taking careful (and public) note of their surroundings. And literally giving them a rating, 1 to 10, in his tweets.
Most of those assessed take it with a grain of salt and a sense of humor. Some have disputed their rating, while others spruce up their backdrop and ask for a re-do.
Should you create a fake “set” for your video meetings?
Some people (among the famous and the rest of us) have tried to avoid putting their personal space out there to be seen—and judged.
Adapting to the video sessions, folks are ordering green screens from Amazon or using Zoom’s virtual background feature.
The big advantage of that is that people see you in the setting of your choice. On a beach, in a garden, or in a professionally designed and impeccably decorated faux office.
To me, that turns out to be a disadvantage. The fake backgrounds are just that – fake. I’d so much rather see you in your own office or home, and I’m willing to be seen in mine. I kind of like the glimpses we’re getting of each other in these video meetings. Seeing each other as real people.
I may be in the minority. The virtual backgrounds seem to be proliferating. Some professionals have created special backgrounds with their logos. I found support, though, from marketing expert David Meerman Scott, who says, “Zoom virtual backgrounds are terrible for your brand.”
A totally different take on your Zoomroom …
Maybe you’re familiar with Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese approach to creating balance, harmony and energy flow in our surroundings?
Feng Shui consultant Marianne Kaplan has some suggestions for setting up your space so it’s just right for your video meetings.
- You want your desk in a power position, with your back to a wall.
- Ideally, you’ll sit in a high-backed chair with arms on it. That gives you a command position. The premise is that you should come off as the king or queen of the office, especially if you’re presenting during the meeting.
- Declutter the office. At least 50% of the desk should be clear to allow the flow of energy coming to you and create visual control of your work.
- If you’re not using a desk for your Skype session or Webex, set up a tray or table. You might even sit in your dining room, especially if you have a high-backed chair at the head of the table. Marianne warns, you won’t be at your best lounging on the couch with your computer in your lap.
- Look at what’s behind you—what impression does that create? Avoid sports posters or political images, anything that would be polarizing. (You adore your White Sox—but what about your customer who bleeds Cubby blue?)
- According to Feng Shui, a brick wall stifles energy and conversation. A plain wall is fine. Color-wise, pale green can inspire creativity, light blue looks calm and serene, a soft yellow is warm and inviting.
- You see a lot of the TV types with a bookcase behind them. Marianne warns that if book edges are sticking out, they become what Feng Shui calls “poison arrows.” Sharp edges pointed toward you are to be avoided.
- Plants are good, although I suppose the “mother-in law’s tongue” would count as a poison arrow. Most plants will soften the image a bit and add some interest without being distracting.
- In terms of other décor, the Feng Shui for Success recommendation is to stay away from clocks; they’re believed to stop life energies. A globe, on the other hand, brings opportunities and helpful people—it suggests a relationship with the world. And you can’t beat a water fountain. Water is a symbol of money.
There’s a lot to think about, isn’t there, when you set up your virtual meeting space. Whether you’re Zooming with colleagues or clients…or interviewing with a potential new employer… its worth giving some thought to the impression they’ll get from everything they see on that screen.
Maybe you’re ready to set up a waterfall in your office? Or you might think the only thing that really counts is the words coming out of your mouth.
Post a comment below to share your observations.