A green chair in an office is in front of a poster of a beach, symbolising a fake Zoom background.
Image: © Dana Keli/Stock.adobe.com

The best things to include in your Zoom background

3 Dec 2020

Should you include art in your Zoom background or is a blank wall best? This infographic sheds some light on what can make a good impression.

We’ve all become very familiar with videoconferencing tools in 2020. But if you’re still eager to up your game, you might want to carefully consider what exactly is on display in your Zoom background before jumping into a call. Signs.com, a company that designs and prints workplace signage, has done some investigating.

It surveyed more than 1,500 people who take part in video calls for work at least once a month. They were shown mock-ups of a Zoom background that varied from a focus on natural light and indoor plants to candles and art.

When asked whether the background they saw made the person in the mock call appear a certain way – intelligent, trustworthy, approachable or professional – most said that natural light or windows would improve their impression of someone on a video call.

Some (14pc) also said that bookshelves behind the person they’re on a call with could improve their overall opinion of them. However, while bookshelves can make a person look more professional, it can also make them seem less approachable, according to the survey respondents.

A small number of people (8pc) said that a background featuring plants would improve their opinion of someone and a 10pc said the same about family photos, degrees and digital backgrounds. Candles were lowest on this ranking.

What do people change before joining a call?

The survey also asked participants what they chose to remove from their background before hopping on a video call.

At 71pc, most of the respondents said that they usually adjust the lighting before joining a work call. Many (63pc) said they clean or tidy the space around them and 60pc said they adjust the webcam for a “more aesthetic perspective”.

More than half said they remove specific items from their background and 36pc said they change to a “more aesthetic” location in their home.

Verdict: The best Zoom background

According to Signs.com, there’s no one “best background” we should all be using. It said: “If someone is looking to have a better overall appearance during their Zoom calls, having a naturally lit frame can help reduce harsh light and smooth out blemishes.”

The company also advised that adding objects such as plants, bookshelves or degrees may make you seem more professional or trustworthy, and keeping a clean blank wall behind you can raise your co-workers’ opinions of you.

“As long as your background is clean and free of distractions, you more than likely can’t go wrong.”

An infographic showing the results of a survey on the best Zoom background.

Click to enlarge. Infographic: Signs.com

An infographic showing the results of a survey on the best Zoom background.

Click to enlarge. Infographic: Signs.com

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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