Expert advice from our Broadcast Operator on backdrops
11 November 2021 - 4 min
A webinar background can matter more than you initially realize. How often have you been distracted by a background during a webinar? It seems like a small detail but in the meantime, it can make your story extra powerful or less so. Fortunately, at WebinarGeek we have a Broadcast Operator who can tell you all about it: Walter! He always handles all the technical stuff in our studio, so he's the perfect person for this topic. I met up with him for some questions.
Do you ever present at home?
Occasionally. Of course, I give webinars in the studio and I like to do that. I also have online meetings at home. I do plan to give more presentations from home.
How do you provide a nice background at home?
When I present at home I don't really have a background like a green screen or backdrop. I mainly make sure that the cabinets that are in the picture are neat and tidy and that it is clean. For me, it immediately ensures that I am more serious in the presentation or meeting because the look on camera is better. That gives me a better feeling.
What tricks can you use to improve your background?
I personally recommend playing more with the lighting. For example, put a nice table lamp in the room, then you create a nice homey setting and you immediately have an extra light! I often see people overexposed because they stick to their office setup. Don't be afraid to move around your home to improve your background. Light from the front is always best! It also shows you a bit more variety which gives an open and honest impression to your audience.
''Articles in the background can be role-enhancing, so think about this carefully.'' - Walter, Broadcast Operator
We are increasingly going back to the office, how do you tackle the setting there?
That's a tricky question. Again, it depends very much on what kind of company you work in. If you work in an open office space, there's not much you can do about the type of background, but it can be fun! Ideally, you'll be giving a webinar in a quiet space so make sure the office is quiet then. In addition, it's always a good idea to put some items behind you that have to do with the topic you're talking about. At our own internal presentations, I always have an old camera on a tripod. This immediately shows what I do and who I am. In other words, articles in the background can be role-enhancing, so think about this carefully.
What if you co-present together in the office?
If you're going to present together and are on camera at the same time, it's especially important that both people have something different on, but that it matches a bit of course. That's nice for the contrast. Make sure that the colors are different when wearing corporate clothing. A background should always fit with what you stand for or want to achieve. Here the corporate image is especially important because two people then represent the company. If you are both presenting separately in front of a backdrop, it is best if you both wear different colored clothes, but keep the background color the same.
If you are indifferent rooms in an office, it is important that there is a similar setting. Not that one person sits in a neat office and the other in a canteen where someone happens to be on a break, for example. This is because otherwise there is more focus on the background or space instead of the presentation. A different camera angle can make all the difference! It is especially important to agree with each other beforehand. Quite cliché to say: be yourself, but if you are going to present in pairs, it is important to agree. You then avoid that only the face changes when someone takes over the presentation, instead of the whole setting.
Also, think about what you show on camera, don't invite someone because they have time and a smooth talk, look for someone who is 100% confident in what they are saying and has an endless knowledge of their topic. Remember, you don't want everyone on camera just so you can co-present.
''Keep it subtle'' - Walter, Broadcast operator
How do you feel about branded backgrounds, like banners for example?
The most important tip for internal presentations, keep them subtle. Don't stand in front of a huge banner and give your presentation there. That will actually create distance because people will quickly get bored of it. Think of subtle objects such as a logo on a cup of coffee, or put a brand book upright on a desk or windowsill. And do think of background paper with your company color. In our case, that's light blue, which is why we give many of our webinars with this color background paper. With other presentations that you give to investors, for example, it is, of course, important that you show your brand well. Then you can do something more than it is nice to have a slightly larger logo in the picture. You may want to think about ordering a banner with your logo for when you present external webinars at home.
What are the most common mistakes made by others?
The most common mistake is not being aware of your background or thinking it's not important "because it's all about you". Backgrounds can be mega role-playing, so especially if you want to come across as convincing or credible, an appropriate background can make all the difference. If you are giving an important presentation and sunlight suddenly enters the room, everyone will understand that this can happen. But prevention is better than cure, so make sure you have good curtains that don't affect the light too much. This also shows a bit of preparation.
''Experiment a lot with decor and backdrops.'' - Walter, Broadcast Operator
Another tip is not to stand in front of a white wall because that gives a quiet look. Instead, experiment a lot with decor and backdrops! But always keep it within your knowledge, if you know that you are not the most technical person, do not just start working with a green screen because you see it on the news. Seek help from a professional and broaden your technical knowledge! Of course, you can always send us a message on our live chat for advice.
Thanks in advance for all the info, Walter! To conclude, I've come up with some statements for you to go crazy with your opinions on. Let's start.
A messy background makes it human and provides authenticity. Therefore, clutter is not a bad thing.
That depends on what you mean by clutter. Sure, real clutter, like empty bottles or old boxes, is not good on camera. Therefore, always make sure that the space that is in the picture is tidy. You can create a kind of atmosphere with disordered stuff in the background. As I described earlier, it doesn't all have to be too clinically tidy. An item that says something about yourself is nice. If I have a meeting in the studio and there are some loose cables, you can see that I'm busy.
If you host a webinar at the office, it has to be in a studio
No, it certainly doesn't have to be! You can - as today proved - do a lot in a small office setting and still create a good and professional atmosphere with your background. In fact, it makes you get creative with your background if it adjusts a bit at each meeting or webinar. Many offices don't have the time, knowledge, or sometimes the money to build a real studio. For example, if you feel you need a studio, you could first start in an empty room or space in your office building to give your webinars there by default. As you continue with webinars, you'll find that you'll change and improve that space more and more, until you've quietly and incrementally turned it into your own studio!
Virtual backgrounds are a great solution if you don't have time to provide a good background
No time or no attention? Haha! We've all had it, that one presentation that you just forgot about. You had to present while your background was still a mess. My tip: make a joke of it. Really, I think everyone will understand that situation in some form of recognition. And going back to the bit of openness I mentioned earlier, you can't get a better openness from anyone! In many cases, people at home will ask, why such a basic standard background? The important thing is that it does not distract from your story.
Also: in my opinion, a physical background always works better than a virtual background. With a virtual background, you often see that it is not quite right and real. If you still want to set it up, my colleague Caroline has written a useful blog on how to do that.
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