With so many of us working and cyber-connecting from home, I want to help you create an awesome virtual space for video conferencing. From choosing the location, to necessary elements, to backdrop options, this blog will help you set up a cool virtual place where you can look and feel great in your space.
Most everyone working from home these days is now engaging in ongoing video calls and meetings. In lieu of in-person workplace connection, we are all trying to connect professionally from home.
We need an intentional place within the home for this purpose.
The trouble is: most homes are cluttered and video-conferencing amidst the mess of life can be a major challenge.
The answer is to carve out a sane, uncluttered, appropriate space within your home to conduct your business world online.
Due to space and practicality constraints, your virtual space may or may not be the same as your home office….
Choosing the Location in Your Home
There are really two options for a virtual space in the home: a dedicated space or using a section of one of your rooms.
Let’s talk first about carving out a nook in one of your rooms for video conferencing, because many of us don’t have a whole room we can allocate for this purpose.
A Carved-Out Room Section
I use this seating area in my master bedroom when I need to remove myself from household activity and guarantee extreme quiet and privacy.
I have two wing chairs set up here, and a pretty little end table between them. I intentionally use this small table that has room only for a light and laptop, rather than a desk because I don’t want this to serve as true workspace. I don’t want projects and desk accessories ending up here. I want my bedroom to remain a peaceful respite.
Keep this in mind when you are carving out a virtual space: if you are not going to actually work there, keep the space elements to a minimum.
This nook is a framed by a beautiful gallery wall (which we will discuss later in the backdrops section) and features nice light from several windows. For these reasons, I have chosen this as my alternate virtual space.
A Dedicated Room
If you are able to use your home office or another dedicated room for video conferencing, you’ll have a door you can close and a space you can make your own.
In my former guest room, I have set up a studio for video conferencing and production. I utilize this entire room for my conference space.
A space that is set apart for the purpose of virtual meetings and professional communication is becoming increasingly important in our interconnected world.
If you use your home office for video conferencing, you may need to take a more careful look at the environment. When you were the only inhabitant of the room, and others never came to visit, set-up, clutter and lighting didn’t matter as much.
Now that lots of people are visiting your office virtually, it may be time for a home office organizing overhaul. If you need help with overhauling your office, check out my Reclaim Your Work playlist on You Tube!
Once your office is ordered, you will be more comfortable (and appear more credible) in your space. A visually-appealing space goes a long way to communicate your professionalism.
As you’re setting up (or upleveling) a space for the purpose of video calls, there’s some elements you’ll want to consider to ensure crisp and attractive communication.
Key Features of Your Virtual Space
Your virtual space needs two key features: great lighting and sound management. If you attend to these elements, you will:
- Feature yourself to your best advantage
- Showcase a hospitable, ordered environment
- Boost your professional image
Taking the time to optimize your virtual space is rewarding because a little effort on the front end will pay off with better usability and professional credibility.
It’s ideal if you can conduct your calls in front of a window because the natural light will make you look best on camera.
If your space doesn’t afford ample natural light, I recommend investing in standing light or two.
One of my friends handed-down her ring light (featured here) to me and I love it.
I place it right in front of my desk and laptop, and it evens out skin tone and helps me look alive when I haven’t fully caffeinated! A ring light offers an amazing improvement from normal room lighting. When I am filming for a video, we place the ring light outside the camera, so it is a versatile piece.
Another lighting element to consider is lighting the background.
Do NOT sit in front of a window, or you will be “backlit” and your facial features will be darkened. It looks unprofessional and even sometimes creepy!
Instead, ensure that the background behind you is well lit. This will remove shadowing as well.
I use a few simple floor lights to light the walls in my virtual space.
As a side note, I’ve found that the further away I sit from the wall, the less shadowing I get.
It might be obvious – or not – but choose a space for your video calls that’s not near the dishwasher or washing machine. Household appliances can create annoying background noise. Do your part to cancel or remove yourself from the noises within the home that would distract from the professionalism of your calls.
In addition to being mindful of what your online audience will be picking up, you will want to be mindful your own family’s experience of your constant video calls. A good headset will shut out your colleague’s voices and help you concentrate. A door will help lower your voice to the benefit of your family.
Noise dampening is also critical to remove that “tinny” or “echoing” sound in your virtual space. Rugs go a long way to dampening noise. If that is not sufficient to improve sound, hanging some moving blankets or sound dampening panels on the surrounding walls is helpful
Once you’ve got your visual and audio dialed in, let’s talk about your backdrop.
Virtual Conference Backdrop
There are several options for backdrops that are fun and easy to create.
I chose my master bedroom virtual nook because of the privacy, but also because it offered great light and a beautiful backdrop of a photo gallery.
My gallery includes black and white family photos in silver, gold, and white frames, sprinkled with architectural pieces and mirrors. This gallery of family photos is grounding, communicates what’s most important in my life, and is beautiful to behold.
You can create your own gallery backdrop with architectural pieces, photos, posters, mirrors, empty frames, or even music instruments. Taking the time to create a focus wall is so much more interesting and attractive than a plain background.
My studio is my dedicated virtual room. In it, I’ve created an “office” themed gallery wall since I’m a professional organizer.
We added distressed, slate-colored shiplap to the sheetrock walls. While I love a white-and-bright palette, I personally don’t look that great against it as a background. We chose a darker backdrop wall because I needed contrast. Your virtual space should reflect YOU!
Bookshelves or Cubbies
Another great backdrop to use is a set of bookshelves or cubbies.
Bookshelves are a tried-and-true backdrop for videography. They connotate an educated, expert status. However, that is only true if the books are ordered! If you are going to use bookshelves as your backdrop, consider organizing your books by genre, or size, or color. Add in attractive bookends or a globe or other recognizable elements.
This well-lit space in my gathering room is framed by a set of cubbies. I can sit here with my laptop in front of me if I need to make a quick video call.
These cubbies are decorated with office supplies and décor in silver, black, white and brown tones – an intentionally neutral color palette that appeals to both men and women. This intentional display features a combination vintage, retro, and new items for interest. Creating an artful display with cubbies forms an attractive video conference background.
If budget is an issue, or you just don’t want to fuss with a gallery wall, bookshelf, cubbies, etc, buy a fabric background. You can hang it from the ceiling or seam of the wall/ceiling and cover a plain wall.
These can be obtained online and come in solid colors, patterns, textures, landscapes, cityscapes, faux architectural elements, and more.
You can acquire several fabric backgrounds and occasionally change them out. I have a faux brick fabric that is a nice choice if I’m looking to create a more industrial or vintage setting.
Whatever background you choose for your virtual space, make it suit your visual and practical needs.
Create a Mobile Virtual Bag
Finally, what happens when you need to take your virtual space on the road?
You create a virtual space tote!
I like bags that stand up on their own if they’re going to travel and be set on the floor in coffee shops.
Here are the items I take with me on-the-go for my virtual needs:
- Travel light
- Water bottle
Keeping a dedicated virtual bag ready to roll is a great strategy to keep your work life nimble.
Here’s to organizing and optimizing your virtual space!