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Studio Session #4: Virtual backgrounds and video presentation tips

Candice Evans

Web conference presenters have embraced virtual backgrounds over the past year – whether as the “latest and greatest” or to simply to mask the realities of working from home. But are they beneficial or detrimental to the messages you’re trying to convey in your meetings?

Depending on the image you want to project, the subject you’re speaking about or the audience you’re presenting to, you might find the current virtual background options leave a lot to be desired. Which is why Intellor’s experts advise proceeding with care and intention.

Virtual backgrounds were designed to be used with a green screen, something the average presenter doesn’t have in a home office. Without one, image consistency varies and video quality may even be significantly degraded, depending on the conference platform in use. For these reasons, we recommend taking the time to prepare your actual background so that when the time comes, you’re ready for your close up – but we have best practices recommendations for whichever path you choose.

Plan Your Video Presentation Carefully

No matter your background, when you start working on your presentation, dedicate some time to preparing your video as well. Turn on your webcam, then:

  • position the camera head on (eye level)
  • frame yourself onscreen from about mid-chest to just above your head
  • situate yourself with a bit of distance from the camera

Now, take a good look. Adjust your camera height and angle if necessary. Eliminate any distractions from your physical or virtual background. Reconsider your clothing choice if you’re disappearing into your virtual background – contrasting colors will define your image on screen and keep you from clipping into your virtual background.

Good images begin with good connections. A hard-wired ethernet connection is much stronger and more reliable than wireless. If you’re working from home, make arrangements so the majority of your household’s bandwidth is dedicated to you during the time of your presentation. All the preparation in the world won’t help if your video freezes or drops because someone starts streaming in another room.

Light it Up

Light (natural light in particular) is the web conference presenter’s best friend. If possible, position yourself with a bright window in front of you. Otherwise, borrow lamps from other areas of your home to help.

The better lit you are, the easier it will be for your camera to differentiate between you and your background. Virtual backgrounds become crisper and more distinct, which helps to cut down on the edges of your image feathering away.

Be sure to check for shadows and shine and adjust either your position or the placement of the lights to eliminate them.

Keep Your Video Presentation Simple

Whether virtual or real, keep your background simple. Shelves of books and curios can be distracting, as can an image with a lot of details that draws the eye (and your audience’s attention).

Worried that a blank wall is too plain? Add small accents (like a plant or a few knickknacks on a shelf) to lend interest without stealing the show. Avoid adding too much, which can be interpreted as clutter on screen.

Your background, whether real or virtual, should complement both you and your message. Rather than the stressful exercise of making last-minute adjustments right before you’re scheduled to present, plan to take just a little time during the days when you’re preparing your remarks to set up a shot that works best for you.