• Lisa Safran

Background Check

My home office. It's nothing fancy, and there isn't any kind of elaborate decor, but everything in it has meaning for me. An old manual typewriter that feels oh so literary. The cozy blue chair for visitors. Mother's Day cards my daughter made for me when she was little. Nicknacks from places I've been and people I love. Massive amounts of books. My desk, which anchors me in more ways than one. It's placed catty-corner in the room, with my back to the wall. It was carefully positioned there so that when I write everything that inspires me is always right in front of me.

As I've been partaking in more and more virtual meetings these days, I'm conscious of what others have been seeing when they see me. No longer is it just me walking into a meeting wearing a certain top/blazer or the color of my specs. My background is now a part of my overall presence. I show it, it shows up.

Up until recently, the view has been a blank white wall with corner shadows that put unfavorable lighting against my head. Not only is the view boring for others, it's a poor reflection of my style and creativity.

So I rearranged my office. Moved the desk out of the corner and into the center of the room. I would never have put it there pre-COVID (it feels like placing a TV behind the couch), but now all my beloved books are behind me. Even though I can't see them when I'm writing, I know they're there, and now so does everyone else I'm conversing with. My background is now a visual reinforcement of my brand.

A real background that extends your personal brand is a win.

A virtual background can make your silhouette look choppy.

I know I could choose a virtual background, like the beach or some trending Netflix reference, but my clients deserve more from me. Like before COVID days, I want them to feel our connection. I want them to get to know me on an authentic level. When they're doing my background check, I want them to see me in the best light.

Think about what your background is communicating to your clients. Does it represent your brand? If not, this is the time to turn things around.

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