Don’t let that cluttered lounge ruin your remote team’s sales demo, pitch or marketing huddle. Here’s the deal, virtual backgrounds can provide a great sense of privacy while also showing brand loyalty and personality on video.
Now, this guide walks you through the most important things when setting up a virtual background & gives you tips for inspiration.
👉🏼 Design Buffs Tip: Need a branded virtual background right now and have no time to read all this? Scroll straight to the bottom to use our virtual background generator to create a branded Zoom background in two clicks for free.
Anyway, in this post we’ll be covering:
- What are virtual backgrounds
- Why should I use a virtual background
- How do I pick a virtual background
- What other video call tools allow me to use virtual backgrounds
- What sizes do I need to consider
- Where can I find free Zoom background images
- Conclusion: Do I need a branded virtual backgrounds
- Free Tool: How to create a branded virtual background in 2 clicks for free?
What are virtual backgrounds?
Zoom, Teams & Co. have a virtual background feature that allows you to display an image or video as your background during a Zoom meeting. Duh, I bet you couldn’t have guessed this yourself?
Let’s take Zoom as an example, shall we? With Zoom, you can upload images or videos as virtual backgrounds.
We don’t want to duplicate what’s already been written by the guys over at Zoom, so if you don’t know how to set up a virtual background, here is the official Zoom documentation.
>> Free Zoom Background Generator: Generate your branded Zoom background in 2 clicks
Why should I use a virtual background?
Let’s face it, if your team is working from home then it’s only a matter of time before one of your video calls gets interrupted by a pet, a house mate, a child, a partner or all of the above.
While it may seem funny and first this can also be a massive distraction from what you’re trying to achieve.
Here’s an example of a video conference call gone bad:
Again, why should you be using virtual backgrounds? Let’s dive in some data.
According to an article by Microsoft, virtual backgrounds can help you and your audience focus on what matters, you. In addition, the study says that using a virtual background can also help you boost your virtual meeting attendance.
A study found out that 23% of U.S. workers said that video meetings make them feel uncomfortable. While many fear public speaking, about 40% say that the background setting in their home environment is the reason for their reluctance.
“23% of U.S. workers say that video meetings make them feel uncomfortable.”
Another study found that during the average 38-minute conference call, thirteen minutes are wasted dealing with distractions and interruptions. The same applies to online interviews, presentations, employee trainings, sales pitches & customer support calls.
“During a 38 minute meeting or conference call, thirteen minutes are wasted dealing with distractions and interruptions.”
The ability to add a background to your next virtual meeting can cut down distractions as the world tries to become more focused when working from home.
Now, should I use a virtual background during video sales calls?
There are two school of thoughts. Sales is all about building genuine human relationships & being authentic. Unless your room looks like a total mess, you can get away with no background at all.
In fact, having pictures of your children in the background and maybe an image or famous art that can spark interesting conversations and build up trust.
Branded virtual backgrounds on the other hand show your brand loyalty and can also showcase your teams’ personality.
The question is...
How do I pick a virtual background image?
Just like everything in visual design & marketing , picking a virtual background image is all about being emphatic towards your audience.
Plus, there are a few visual limitations to consider:
- Don’t use images that contain neon light or bright colors
- Don’t use images with patterns or weird shapes
- Last, do not wear clothing that is the same color as the virtual background
- Pick a background in landscape mode and in high-quality
- And decide how you want your audience to see you at first glance
- Tip: Higher quality web cameras result in better virtual backgrounds
General rule of thumb:
- If you’re blonde or fair, use a darker background image
- If you have dark hair, use a lighter background image
By the way, during our research we stumbled upon this awesome article by Chariti Canny experimenting with different backgrounds and exploring the Dont’s and Do’s
And what type of virtual background should I use?
We’re sharing a few ready-to use backgrounds later on. The bottom line, depending on your industry or vertical, you can pick different themes.
Nature backgrounds, workspace backgrounds or pictures of conference rooms work well. In some instances are solid color background can work as well.
Where can I get virtual backgrounds for Zoom?
The best resources to get virtual background images for Zoom & Teams are here:
- Unsplash Zoom Backgrounds or here
- Zoom Virtual Backgrounds
- Tech Republic: The Coolest Virtual Backgrounds to Use in Zoom Meetings
- Free Zoom Virtual Background Generator
Plenty of resources to wade through.
No time? Here are a handful of images you can simply download:
- Right click on the image below, then select “Save Image As...” from the dropdown menu
- Enter the file name you want to use for the selected background, and choose where to save the file
- Click the “Save” button
The tidy hotel room image
The startup workspace
The creative living room
The studio style background
The Hipster background
The spacious house
The record store
What size should I use for my virtual background?
Prefer to design the virtual background yourself? This section is for you.
As you know, there are plenty of design tools available. But even if you’re using Photoshop, Figma or Co. here are some tips to get you started.
The ideal virtual background image size for both Teams & Zoom is 1920 x 1080 pixels with an aspect ratio of 16:9. Other dimensions may cause in some issues like bars cropping out the virtual background image.
Important requirements for virtual backgrounds on Zoom:
- Zoom background photo should be under 5MB in size
- File formats to use are JPG/JPEG, 24-bit PNG, or GIF
- Zoom Room needs to be at least version 3.5.19327.0620 or higher
The best Zoom background image size is 1920px by 1080px. This is an aspect ratio of 16:9. Zoom states that using other dimensions may result in black bars cropping out the virtual background image.
What other video call tools allow me to use virtual backgrounds?
While Zoom is popular, there are tons of other video calls out there. The most commonly used tools are Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Skype & Google Meet &
How to use virtual backgrounds in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams made huge leaps towards becoming the leader in remote business collaboration. Since 2020 Microsoft added their version of virtual background to Microsoft Teams video calls.
With 20+ pre-made backgrounds to choose from, you’ll be able to join your next calls from the office, the beach, or even from the Minecraft universe.
Can I use virtual backgrounds on Google Meet?
As of November 10, 2020 the only option to use virtual backgrounds in Google Meet is via a desktop browser, e.g. Chrome (sorry, app users). The feature is coming out via a roll out, so you might not be able to access it just yet. Here’s an official update from the Google Blog.
In the meantime, we found some cool extensions from the Google Chrome store.
Step 1: Visit the Chrome Web Store and search for Virtual background in the search bar.
Step 2: You will find Virtual background for Google Meet at the top. Download and install the extension on your Google Chrome browser. (You can also use this extension or any extension from the Chrome Web Store to other Chromium-based browsers such as Microsoft Edgee, Opera, Brave, and more).
How to add virtual backgrounds in Skype?
Skype has introduced support for custom backgrounds in video calls, following the recent popularity of an equivalent feature in Zoom.
To set up a permanent custom background for all your Skype calls follow the following steps:
- Launch Skype and click your profile picture
- Click the Settings button (the cog icon), then click the Audio & Video button (the mic icon)
- Add a new image to customise your background, or select one you’ve previously added. You can also Blur the real background of the room you’re in.
Here are the official instructions for using virtual backgrounds in Skype.
Does Webex have virtual backgrounds feature?
If you’re using Cisco Webex on mobile or your desktop, there’s an option to change or blur your background.
Simply tap the settings and choose to use one of the pre-loaded images, or upload your own to the device. You can see Cisco’s full guide here.
Virtual video calls are here to stay and we hope this article answered your questions. Do you always need a virtual background? Probably not. But if your work space tends to be too cluttered, you’re in the middle of a home repair project, or you or your team are known to be bedroom Zoom callers anticipating scene-stealing pets, toddlers or partners, using a virtual background is always a good idea.
Bonus: How do I create a branded virtual background in 2 clicks?
After reading this, finding the perfect background image might not be the problem. But creating on with your branded colors and logo can take some time - time you simply don’t have to spare.
And that’s where we come in. We created a free tool for you to use to create branded virtual backgrounds for Zoom and many other video call tools. It takes 2 clicks to get started and you’ll receive your custom branded background a few minutes later via Zoom.