How background blur and virtual backgrounds keep the focus on you

Background blur is a common technique used by photographers for years as a way to keep the focus on their most important subject. The idea is to focus on the element in the foreground, by removing the hard lines and distracting detail in the background, to truly make the element pop. You can use the same effect to keep the focus on you during that important online meeting.  

With more and more people working remotely, whether it’s from a crowded coffee shop or at home with pets and kids, it’s never been more important to concentrate on the vital task at hand during conference calls and meetings. Even when you’re not working at home, distractions at the office can be a problem.  

A recent study found that during the average 38-minute conference call, a full thirteen of those minutes are wasted dealing with distractions and interruptions. The same can apply to everything from online interviews, presentations, and employee training sessions, to brainstorming, sales pitches, IT assistance, customer support and webinars. So, the ability to use background blur or one of the many virtual background options, from custom to pre-made—goes a long way in cutting down on disruptions as the world tries to become more focused when working from home.  

But does your meeting software have these options? If it does, you should be able to activate background blur or an image in just a few steps: 

  • Generally, you should find the option under your audio and video settings as you start or join a meeting 
  • Click on settings 
  • Check under options 
  • Look for an option to blur your background or choose an image and click on it  
Microsoft Teams background settings

In addition to blurring your background and choosing from pre-made images, you may also find an opportunity to upload a custom virtual background. From fresh, clean office environments, to cityscapes, to tranquil parks, to world-famous tourist attractions, or just a company logo—many meeting tools already allow for you to create custom backgrounds. 

If yours doesn’t have that option yet, some meeting software lets you integrate apps like Snap camera to generate static images using filters. For dynamic images, look for tools like XSplit Virtual Cam.  

Example of Microsoft Teams using stock background image of classroom

On top of adding a touch of personality and limiting distractions during the meetings, using backgrounds could boost attendance. Consider the fact that 23% of U.S. workers in a recent poll said that video meetings make them feel uncomfortable; 75% said they still prefer audio to video. While many fear public speaking, about 40% say the background setting is the reason for their reluctance. 

As the host, encouraging your attendees to use background blur or create their own custom background options will go far in making them feel better about participating fully in your next meeting. 

Example of Microsoft Teams using custom background image of cityscape at night

Never before has video conferencing been such an essential and powerful tool. It enables you to bring people together, make meetings more personal, and improve the way you communicate while creating a better solution for today’s business environment. By using custom backgrounds, background blur, and all the onboard software tools available, you can make the most of your next video conference.  

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