10 Things That Make Your Zoomscape Look Cheap

Falling for clickbait from a designer under the handle vybeinterior, I discover the things to avoid should you not want your personal space at home to look cheap.

It doesn't take much to cross-reference these with how we can add a pro touch to where we video call from.

I'm reminded in part of the stadium-playing 80s hair metal band, Van Halen. Their legendary backstage rider including 'M&Ms: Warning Absolutely No Brown Ones'. Mis-read as rock 'n roll excess. Yet instructed as proxy for how the venue might wire their extensive lightshow. And the fabled one-time they were persuaded to perform when the bowl incorrectly did include the brown ones, the stage blew up.

As in, if you video-in from an office with akin to wiring dangling and the like visible, what does that say to your potential client about your approach overall?

Back to the chief style offenders. In general, they are apparently;

  • visible electrical cord clutter
  • cushions emblazoned with/sticker (decal) artwork of, inspirational quotes
  • mass-produced artwork
  • outdated lighting fixtures
  • exposed LED lighting
  • general clutter
  • artwork too small for the space (instead make it a focal point)
  • exposed lockers and cupboards
  • kids artwork on fridge
  • plastic window blinds

I suspect that as they quit their Facebook jobs to start a canvas wall art business when they couldn't find anything decent between the $30 generic posters and $4,000 gallery options for their own newly bare walls, they could know a little bit about curating a video backdrop too.

Given the postings of this particular practitioner are also strapped, "transform boring rooms into bright spaces that capture your personality", how snugly does all this translate to our videoing space?

Well, as someone who's developed video call areas (both with my own lab and zoom booths for others) there's a lot of crossover in there.

Yet I feel compelled to first mention that lately I'm meeting a great deal in partly the ol' 'hostage video' style. Deliberately shifting focus on to the performance, and that alone.

Though it's important to note that the early coining of this blank scenery specifically included nostrilcam and poor lighting settings. Neither of which I advise you replicate.

As a related factor, consider how you'd interact when face-to-face with a prospect.

If one-on-one (or -two, say) then when you make a point worthy of a visual, how do you show it? Leap up to whiteboard? Search for a slidedeck? Turn your daybook to a new blank page and put pen to paper?

You should know in advance.

Beyond the now needed re-appraisal for once-derided vanilla plain walled background, the differences today in perception have blurred.

Studies can examine preferences between 'revealing' and 'non-revealing' backdrops, and test for levels of 'warmth' and 'competence' conferred.

Which could lead you to conclude there's not a lot in it either way nowadays.

Yet this feels true only up to a point.

You might argue that a professional virtual or app-blurred background - both of which might hide the 'cheap' top ten cited above - are so commonplace as to render any effort to appear 'revealing' unnecessary.

Yet any hint of authenticity with something slightly out-the-ordinary, on the face of it not quite super-smooth tv studio or million-view youtuber setting upgrade, can also gain you unique engagement.

Which can emanate from the smallest of trinket, through seeing how you enclose your workspace, to a deployed prop.

In any case, whilst signalling has its place, I'd say it also happens that what you do on your video call likely outweighs impact of where you are seen to be calling from.

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