Whether you use Webex, Skype, Zoom, or another remote meeting tool, you've probably seen someone using a virtual background. Maybe you think they're cool, maybe you think they're cheesy. Well, the fact is that, yes, they're both.
Here's how we see it: somewhere between Coolville and Cheesetown is Fun City. We think backgrounds are just kind of fun, especially when you consider the situation we're all in. Obviously, for very serious meetings they're not appropriate. But for your constant typical WFH meetings, check-ins, get-togethers, brainstorms, etc., they can be a smile-maker, a conversation starter, a creativity booster... even a personal brand builder?
And, of course, a potential distraction.
Or you also could think of it this way: a virtual background doesn't just brighten things up, it's also a privacy enhancer that helps to separate home (literally) from work. Plus, it's funny how the place you live can be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing in real life, but the moment it becomes the background for a video meeting it looks a little more drab and cluttered than you thought.
Anyway, if you've got a mostly blank background behind you they'll mostly work. If your clothes are close in color and tone to the background, things could get weird. A green screen is optimal but not always necessary. You'll also need a certain minimum of processor power in your computer, depending on the platform. Basically, backgrounds won't work for everyone, especially if you've got an older device.
Just hit the button below to get 10 free virtual meeting backgrounds! (FYI, it's a 4.4 MB Zip file).
Here are instructions for some of the major apps:
- Zoom virtual backgrounds
- Webex video backgrounds Update 17 July 2020: Use a Virtual Background in Webex Meetings, Events, and Training
- Microsoft Teams custom backgrounds
- Skype custom backgrounds
- BlueJeans virtual backgrounds and accessories how-to (using SnapCamera)
- GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar can use third party camera apps to create the effect but might require a green screen
- Google Meet does not yet support virtual backgrounds
Enjoy—there are more to come next week (including animated backgrounds!).