At the start of lockdown last year I, like many people, had to face up to the fact that Zoom/Microsoft Teams/Google Meet, etc. were going to be a more intrinsic way of life than ever before. I had never subscribed to a paid Zoom account, as I had barely used it previously; I didn’t have Teams; I was aware of Google Meet but not used it; I had only used Skype for a few meetings.
Nowadays, I am on Zoom daily, sometime train on Teams, have carried out some training on Google Meet and barely ever use Skype. Learning to use these software packages was a big learning curve for most of us.
In the early days, I had a Zoom meeting with someone who commented a bit negatively on my office background. I explained that my son was home from university; my husband was working from home at our dining table; so space was at a premium; and that this was my office, where my desktop computer and all relevant information was based. It was suggested that I buy a green screen and use it with a Zoom digital background. The comment had made me feel rather uncomfortable from the criticism, so immediately did as suggested.
Suggestion from Paris
A couple of months later, I had a Zoom meeting with a lovely lady from Paris, who asked about my background photo. She could tell it was a fake Zoom background because of the usual slightly fuzzy outline around my head. An added problem was that, with the window open, the green screen would occasionally move in the breeze. After I explained why I was using it, she asked to see what the real background looked like. I removed the screen and she said my office background was fine, that it was more ‘real’ than the Zoom background, and that I should be proud of it as it shows an element of my professional life with the folders of all my training courses. From that moment on, the green screen hasn’t been used.
Since then, various people have remarked positively on my background. Comments have been made about disliking “dressed” sets, especially those seen on TV, with people’s own books turned in the bookcase to face the camera, and preferring a more realistic, “normal” look.
So, the green screen has been retired and my office background is now the one being used. I have attended or hosted webinars, training sessions, meetings, conferences, coaching sessions and not had one negative comment.
Are you doing anything like this to “satisfy” others’ preferences? Are you feeling compromised or unable to be true to yourself? Could you make a change to be more authentic?
This is me!
In these days of so much affectation, it is nice to be welcomed being “ME”, and I thank that lovely Parisian lady for helping me to see that. I now embrace my not-so-tidy office, my array of blue training course folders (of which I am actually very proud), my husband’s CD boxes (erm, that IS a major bone of contention… moving on!), etc. As Keala Settle sings in the Greatest Showman “This is Me”!