Who’s Zooming Who?

December 24, 2020 Updated: December 24, 2020

Video chats have been the major shift for communication in both business meetings and family gatherings since the beginning of the pandemic. Of course, we have seen a great number of gaffes, from inappropriately clad business associates to screaming children to barking dogs.

In the process, we have also become cinematographers and theatrical set designers of sorts. Now we know what angles work, the benefits of light rings to get the best-lit images, and what works as a background for our Zoom meetings and presentations.

What was once considered as a homemade video now competes with professionally produced content. Much thought has to go into today’s presentations, as many presentations go from iPhone or GoPro to a multitude of media platforms.

You can add some plants to the background for visual interest. (Dean Drobot/Shutterstock)

The go-to furniture item this year is the bookcase, which helps create the illusion of an office in almost any corner of a room. Also gaining traction because of its simplicity is the open-shelving concept. Both create a backdrop that sends the message that you are knowledgeable in your game. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that when celebrities and journalists appear on television, they usually have organized and well-placed items, books and, well, if they’ve got some, awards. It’s OK to brag and show off your accomplishments.

The idea is to curate the items behind you for visual impact. So, if you’ve got books, group them by theme or by color. Books can either be placed vertically with bookends or stacked horizontally. Or you can do a combination of both, where the horizontal books will perform as the bookends.

Mix in an assortment of picture frames with family pictures or personal portraits in between the books, in a seemingly haphazard way, so they don’t appear overly staged. Stagger the frames to create a back-and-forth placement of items. Add some interest by adding some accessories, objets d’art or plants, which are great to cleanse the air and for relaxation, if you are near a window. If you are not near a window, a preserved plant or artificial plant will give you at least some visual relief. Creating this nook is effective for your presentations; just make sure there is balance and that it doesn’t look overloaded. After all, the attention should be on you. Your backdrop shouldn’t be distracting.

Now that we’ve covered what’s in your background, here are a few words of advice about your desk or table surface. Try to avoid a window in the background, as you will appear as a dark shadow. If possible, invest in a ring or halo light to get that professional lighting quality. Prop your computer, camera, or phone so that it’s not shooting a picture of your midriff or the ceiling above you. Also, sit approximately 24 to 30 inches from the screen so you look engaged. Don’t forget to smile … and show them who’s Zooming who!

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2020 Creators.com