Whether it’s for a job interview, an online presentation, or a virtual meeting, if you’re a 21st-century professional, there’s a good chance that you use—or will use—video conferencing. And while there are many aspects that go into preparing for a successful video conferencing appearance, one that often goes overlooked is the video conference background.

In addition to wearing the right clothes, preparing your materials, as well as testing your conferencing equipment, creating a clean, professional looking backdrop is an important aspect of—sometimes quite literally—presenting yourself in the right light.

Here are some of the FreeConference team’s top tips for creating a professional-looking video conference background:

sample video conferencing background for video conference calls

Choose Your Setting Wisely

When taking part in a video conference, your surroundings serve as a reflection of who you are. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start off by choosing a clean, professional-looking backdrop in a quiet setting where you’re unlikely to be disturbed. If you’re at home, make sure any personal items in view are arranged nearly (i.e. make your bed if it’s in view) and make the necessary arrangements beforehand to ensure any young children—or your pet cat—won’t be making a surprise appearance in the middle of your conference. Backdrops that reflect a professional or academic image (i.e. bookshelves, office backdrops, etc.) are always a good choice.

Get Your Lighting Right

It’s virtually impossible to overstate the importance of proper ambient lighting when preparing to present yourself for a video conference. Video conference background lighting should illuminate and accentuate your best features, however, if done incorrectly, it can easily have you looking like a creature of the shadows or, alternately, an orb from outer space. Balance and manage any natural or artificial lighting sources and preview your own video feed prior to your conference call to make sure that you and your surroundings are adequately illuminated without casting too intense a glow or too dark a shadow.

Manage Distances

When preparing for a video conference, it is important to make sure there is adequate space between your webcam, your face, and whatever is behind you. Having your webcam too close to your face, or your back up against a wall, can make your environment look cramped and crowded. When setting up in front of your webcam, you want to make sure your face, neck, and perhaps the topmost portion of your torso in view while leaving at least an arm’s length worth of room between you and any walls or large objects in the video conference background. Sitting about two feet away from your webcam—and having at least 2-3 times that much room behind you—is a good rule of thumb.

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