Backgrounds in Online Meetings Telling Stories

Backgrounds in Online Meetings Telling Stories

Backgrounds in Online Meetings Telling Stories 366 222 Shlomi Ron


What’s the deal with all these backgrounds people are using in online meetings?

As our social interactions have moved to Zoom and other online meeting platforms, I have recently noticed the interesting use of virtual backgrounds – as a rich canvas to broadcast our personal brand stories.

There are a couple of archetypes that stand out:

  • The Authentic

    No virtual background: “No time for nonsense, see me in my natural habitat!”

     

  • The Explorer

    Grab a photo from Zoom’s default library: “Hey, that Northern Lights video is so cool!”

     

  • The Artist

    Upload a photo/video from her personal library: “Hey, I live in Miami, I took this beach photo, so this is my visual business card!”

     

  • The Gadgeteer

Use a proper green screen and lighting with their own uploaded photo/video and branding: “I am a pro!”

That’s cool but what does it all mean?

What backgrounds are you using for your online meetings?

Interestingly, during the first two months of lockdown, where many have discovered Zoom and its easy-to-use virtual backgrounds, the novelty effect has pushed more people to play The Explorer or The Artist.

Like yours truly per above. Early on, I had to share my favorite Miami’s hangout: Matheson Hammock Park 🙂

I’d say, this bodes well with that period’s growing feeling of closure and the need to project life outside the screen.

As we’re moving into Reopening, and the novelty effect dried out, The Authentic model that initially started more as a signal of a less techy person, is now coming back as a more effective storyteller.

Just you in your real-life room.

Why?

You may have noticed that uneasy feeling when you have an online meeting with people and all of them use no artificial backgrounds.

So, if you pop up your fancy beach vacation background, you’ll immediately stand out as different and attract comments.

In this sense, backgrounds have become the “new visual dress code” that implicitly signals the level of group belonging.

That beach background may be good when you meet with your close friends for a relaxed online happy hour vs. a serious business meeting with a client where your Authentic model projects more transparency and trust.

The other reason for the recent comeback of the Authentic archetype is because it offers you a more strategic stage to communicate your personal brand story about who you are or wish to be.

With long meetings, people get bored and they naturally opt to explore closer your personal slice of life you decided to share with them, and based on these visual cues tell themselves a story about who you are.

What books you have on your bookcase as this story suggests, the lighting, color template, cleanliness vs. clutter, salient objects, art on your wall, pets, and even sound disruptions.

What background should you choose?

What I recommend, before you hit that video button to show people a window into your world, plan ahead based on the nature of the meeting.

Ask yourself:

  • Is it work-related or lighter social gathering?
  • What was the visual dress code the last time you attended?
  • What are your goals for this meeting?
  • What impression are you looking to project?

And right before going live, take a look at what is the dominant “visual dress code” other members are using and decide accordingly.

Need help developing your visual storytelling strategy? Schedule a meeting.

Shlomi Ron

CEO at Visual Storytelling Institute. After 20 years of well-rounded digital marketing experience, having worked both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as American Express, Nokia and IBM, Shlomi has co-founded the Visual Storytelling Institute (VSI) to help business leaders rise above the noise through the power of storytelling and the effectiveness of visual media. Shlomi's new book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals To Help You Create Richer, Visual Brand Stories.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron

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