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Is It Unprofessional To Blur Your Background in a Meeting?

Video calls and conferences are permanent parts of the modern workplace. A professional background can set the tone for any virtual meeting, but what makes a background professional or trustworthy? Is the useful blur background feature a help or a hindrance? Here's everything you need to know about blurring backgrounds and projecting your best professional self on Zoom.

What Makes a Zoom Background Professional

Everyone knows a messy home makes for a poor Zoom background, but any cluttered space can be distracting, even if it is well-organized. Overcomplicated or busy virtual backgrounds can be unprofessional as well. Open space and bright light keep your image clear and legible.

First, be sure your background-to-foreground ratio is correct for a professional Zoom call. Your face and shoulders should fill 75-80% of the video call's frame. This projects confidence and improves communication.

Now, turn your attention to the background. Here are the elements of a strong and aesthetically pleasing professional backdrop:

  • Clean, empty space

  • Books, plants, and tasteful office accessories

  • Ample lighting

  • Branding elements, such as your name and/or company logo

Both virtual backgrounds and real-life backgrounds can be effective professional settings. Virtual backgrounds require high-quality, high-resolution images and a lighting setup that precludes heavy shadows. A blank wall is a tried-and-true professional background that doesn't require any upkeep.

The blurred background feature can be tempting if you don't have a dedicated home office space. This feature softens details in the background while retaining the details on your face and upper body.

Is the Blurred Background Effect Unprofessional?

Using the blur effect for your background is not considered unprofessional. Of course, using the blur to disguise a disorganized room or office isn't ideal. Instead, use the blur to streamline an open office, white walls, or almost-white walls.

Here is an easy step-by-step method for how to blur the background on Zoom:

  1. Sign in to your Zoom profile

  2. In the upper right corner, click on your profile picture

  3. Select Settings from the menu

  4. Click on "Background and Effects" on the settings list

  5. Select "Blur" in the virtual backgrounds section

Zoom's technology keeps your face and shoulders focused while blurring all the details behind you. Use this tool in conjunction with plenty of negative space, good framing, and bright light.

Tips for Even Better Zoom Backgrounds

Once you've mastered how to blur the background in Zoom, here are a few easy ways to level up your professional Zoom calls.

1. Add Branding to Your Background

You can add a branding element — a company logo, name, job title plate, or both — to a custom virtual background or a real-life office backdrop. These elements add a dose of professionalism and can help coordinate a remote team.

2. Place Your Head Against a White Backdrop To Prevent Black Outlines

The virtual background feature is ideal when you can't be in a clean and professional real-life office space. It's helpful to have a professional virtual background ready to go for travel or unexpected meeting situations.

You don't need a green screen to use virtual backgrounds effectively, but a white backdrop can be a huge advantage. It allows a virtual background to blend without a distracting black line around your face and shoulders.

3. Use Lighting Tricks To Improve Your Zoom Image

Lighting discs and ring lights are inexpensive ways to make any Zoom call and background more professional. Good lighting can also help virtual backgrounds blend more effectively.

It's completely fine to use the blur background tool in professional calls. Don't rely on it to create a good background automatically, however.


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