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by Ashley Reed & Mary Kate Sheridan | June 09, 2021

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For more than a year, we’ve practically lived on Zoom, and video meetings don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Making the right impression during video calls is critical, right down to what is in your background. Whether for a legal job interview, networking event, law school class, work meeting, or happy hour with colleagues or classmates, using a Zoom background can provide a professional presentation while preserving your at-home privacy and hiding any clutter. Read on for some background suggestions and bring your Zoom game to the next level.

Legal Job Interview

When choosing a background for an interview, it’s best to keep it simple and professional: Choose a basic image. Using an background that is busy will distract your interviewer. Consider selecting a solid, neutral color, which will minimize any distractions and place the focus squarely on you—as it should be.

Creating a solid background couldn’t be easier. Check out Canva’s Virtual Background Maker. Select a blank template, choose your neutral color of choice, and save the background. Voila—you are interview ready!

If a solid color is too bland for your style, consider a professional home office background. Try to find a background that is minimalist so that the focus remains on you. This simple white home office background and this modern home office with shelving are both great options.

Networking Event

Similar to an interview, the perfect background for a networking event is an understated one. Your goal is to make professional connections and a good impression—not to make a statement with a busy or nonconventional background. While you can certainly use the background suggested above, you may want to step out of the home office motif to a background that is slightly more casual, especially since networking events are social in nature.

Consider using a bright, clean living space as your background, such as one of these options from Serena & Lily, which feature neutral colors and tasteful accents.

Virtual Law School Class

There may be times while attending a virtual class that you do not want your classmates to see your messy bedroom. A background image will help cover up what your living space looks like after an all-night study session. While you can certainly loosen up on the background you use during class in comparison to the one you use in interviews or networking sessions, you should still keep it professional. Don’t forget your classmates today will be colleagues and potential clients tomorrow. And you want to maintain a positive reputation with your professor.

One option is to stick with a “scholarly” theme and use a library background. The New York Public Library offers some great background options, including one of the Rose Main Reading Room. Library Journal also has some great options from libraries around the world. Even better, try to find a Zoom background of your own school’s library (like these backgrounds from Dartmouth’s Library).

Sticking with the school theme, another perfect background choice for class time is one from your law school. Check and see if your law school offers any Zoom backgrounds of your school’s classrooms and campus or of the school’s logo—like these backgrounds from Harvard Law, Penn Law, and Boston University Law School, for example. Showing some school spirit in class is never a bad idea!

Work Meeting

Choosing a background for a work meeting will depend on your role in the meeting. If you are presenting or will be facilitating any discussions, stick with something simple like a plain color to keep the focus on your words. If you will just be listening, you have more options. Just remember to use your best judgment since your superiors and coworkers will be in the room—and you never know who may jump on a call last minute, changing a meeting from casual to serious.

If you want to embrace the office vibe, consider using a picture from your firm’s office if you have one. If that isn’t readily available, try searching on sites like Unsplash or Pexels for a royalty free office or conference room shot. If you are pickier about what shot to choose, check out the Zoom office backgrounds available on Etsy. (Many are just $1, so they won’t break the bank.)

Another option for a work meeting is to find a picture of a gallery wall that fits your taste, like this background by Designlab.

Finding a neutral, but interesting background is a great goal when it comes to work meetings.

Casual Meeting

Some meetings—whether they are with classmates or coworkers—are more low key than others. But even if you are among friends, you may still want a Zoom background if your apartment isn’t neat or if you are on the road. In these cases, try one of these stylish backgrounds from West Elm. These backgrounds have a lot of detail, and you can opt for an indoor space, outdoor space, and even one with a dog! They’ll keep your overall look on point during your meetup.

Happy Hour

You have more freedom to choose a fun background if you are attending a social event. Select a background that shows your personality or is guaranteed to earn a few laughs. A popular choice for social events is using a still from your favorite TV show, a favorite international destination, or a beach shot. From The Met to Wrigley Field to the Rosebud Motel, you can find a background for just about any interest.

There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun with your background during an event—just try to stay away from anything that is potentially controversial. While an after-hours event may be much more casual than a work meeting, you still want to use your best judgment and select a background that isn’t offensive in any way.

Keeping your Zoom background professional is the best way to go when it comes to work meetings, interviews, and industry events. The best advice when deciding on a background is to choose one that won’t embarrass you if someone takes screenshots and it goes viral. Happy zooming!

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