A red striped chair sits behind an oversized black L-shape desk. Two empty custom-made book cases lean on the right wall. “I’m having an important video conference next week, this room is what I can use. I’ve decluttered it and this is all I have to work with.” It was at 12 midnight when I received a WhatsApp message from my sister in Germany, Reina.
With three kids aged 15, 11 and 8, all home schooled due to the world pandemic, my sister was in dire need of a spot for her video conferences.
Before the Transformation
Reina and I have a special sister bond, being only a year and a day apart. We were very different growing up as we both tried to discover who we were individually. Those times were chaotic fighting over who gets to use the blow dryer first at the crack of dawn, the lucky one to get the first pick from a pile of goodies from mom and dad’s trip abroad and who gets the chicken leg.
My Sister and I
Now that we’re both in our 40’s and the dust have settled, we have discovered one’s weakness is another one’s strength, what the other lacks, the other fills.
This time, I hoped I could be of help in transforming this room into a video conference ready space, working solely with what’s on hand and with what I can only see virtually.
To have good visibility, it is always important to face toward the light source. In cases where there is poor lighting, you may position a work light right above your computer or laptop camera and center it in front of you. In addition, using the light source from your monitor by opening a word document can help illuminate your face.
Always remember not to sit with your back to a light source.
Make sure to test your lighting before the actual meeting and don’t forget to double check your bulbs, you wouldn’t want it burning out in the middle of your virtual meeting.
Oh yes, it can happen!
A painting, an artwork grouping or a bookshelf makes an interesting backdrop. The key is to curate it orderly and minimally.
My sister had two book cases that blocked a storage room door. These were relocated behind the desk and the paintings were repositioned above it mirroring its symmetry.
Making use of what she has at home, we kept the display organized and clutter free to encourage focus on the speaker and lessen distraction.
Zoom Ready Background
Having an exciting color scheme for your room can encourage creativity but for video conferences, limiting the colors of your background to a few and keeping it neutral will be best so as not to divert attention from the speaker to the background.
For this room, we replaced the red striped chair with a beige leather chair and carried on with the colors of the furniture on hand.
Colors of the Old Furniture and Artworks
Re-enforced in the Transformation
Make sure your camera is fixed at an eye level. Should your chair be too low, consider putting a cushion you can sit on to elevate you.
Look at the camera when having a virtual meeting and avoid looking at yourself. You will appear more engaged in the conversation in doing so.
5. Door Location
Lastly, its always a good idea to position yourself where you can see the door. In this manner, you can avoid your children barging in right in the middle of your virtual meeting.
With three kids to overlook and just ready to charge in anytime, facing the door was a must for my sister and imperative for her set up.
This pandemic has brought a lot of changes in our daily activities. It has confined us to our homes and have limited our physical social interaction. Staying true to saying, that when a door closes, a window opens, the closure shifted us to another road of communication, virtual may be, allowed new relationships to flourish and old relationships to grow further.
The pandemic has taken away our normal routine but far from our minds, it has transformed a warm touch into kind words, gave each one a chance to talk and to listen virtually, and it gave time… enough time to have real conversations with family.
It’s not all about making a good impression, it’s about setting up a conducive space that will encourage a productive, positive and successful virtual social interaction. Your computer monitor is now your window to the outside world and the window of others to your world.
I should not forget to mention, my sister, Reina, came a year and a day before me, making her older.
Let that be on record.