During one of my recent Zoom meetings, I received a comment about the old iMac in my home office. The white computer was sitting sidelined in the background on top of a short bookcase. I retired this 2004 iMac long ago.
But like some of my old tech, I never threw it away. Now, it sits like a museum piece, available for anyone to appreciate (or question) whose wandering eye might be checking out the details of my home office.
Don’t think for a moment that your Zoom-fatigued viewers aren’t looking around your Zoom box. They crave any opportunity to thaw their pandemic-frozen eyes, locked to their computer screen all day.
Anything of interest is an immediate target. And so was my ancient iMac.
It’s actually hard for people not to notice the details of the space you’re in. It’s natural.
Virtual isn’t Real
So, if you feel your room isn’t ready for prime time, should you simply activate a virtual background?
That’s what many people have been doing during their Zoom meetings. But even though the functionality is there for that exact reason, I think it’s a bad trade-off.
The Value of Authenticity
Sure, it’s a one-click solution to hide your environment that could otherwise use a little more art direction. But it also erases any opportunity for your authentic living space to support your personal brand.
You can only work with what you’ve got. And I think your viewers will understand that. In fact, they’ll appreciate it.
Yes, you should remove any unnecessary clutter in your background. But if there’s an unusual object like an old Mac perched on a shelf, so be it. If you’re lucky, it may become a conversation piece during your next Zoom.
And that can really help to provide some context to your identity, especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time on a two-dimensional computer screen.
It’s Time to Build an Official Zoom Zone
Yes, thanks to Covid-19, our lives have become televised (well… streamed).
And when we eventually return to a post-pandemic existence, I think that new normal will still contain a healthy dose of Zoom meetings. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s not going away… ever.
Sure, you may be free to move about the cabin of life again, but video conferencing from home is an established norm that has taken off.
And this will bring up proactive decorating opportunities for spaces that you’ve designated as your Zoom zones. Perhaps you’ll consider a new framed print or painting on the wall behind you. A different piece of furniture? An arrangement of fresh flowers? A total redesign?
The same way that the family room became the next generation of the living room, I feel it’s inevitable that a Zoom zone or even a ‘Zoom Room’ will become a natural addition to our future homes.
Yes, people can always use a virtual background. But eventually, they’ll move out of their temporary Zoom mindset.
Sharing a more permanent reality is usually a much better long-term solution.