As an Online Presenter, Should You Use Virtual Backgrounds For Online Events?

Are you tired of using a home office as your online background for keynote presentations? If you’re a virtual keynote speaker presenting to audiences online, a home office might be your only studio. It’s understandable after presenting from the same location for months, you might feel a need to shake things up by adding virtual backgrounds to your online conference event.

If you’re not familiar with virtual backgrounds, they are the thrifty person’s green screen. A fun way to change the background to whatever you want. There’s no need for a special studio, lighting, or previous film experience. Using them is as easy as downloading software or a template from Canva. You can change the appearance of your background to sci-fi locations, nature scenes, or even a studio. They are inexpensive and easy to use.

While it’s easy to use them, the question is: should you use a virtual background for your online presentation?  It doesn’t matter if you’re a virtual motivational speaker, virtual business speaker, or virtual entertainer, the answer depends on your type of audience, studio setup, and if it is pre-recorded or live event.



Is your event formal or informal? If you have a formal event with a Fortune 500 company, you might want to stay away from a virtual background unless you have a great studio setup or plan to pre-record and edit your talk. Virtual background templates you can easily add to your Zoom platform can look glitchy and distracting. While fun to look at, they can take away from the authenticity of your talk. Your audience might spend more time thinking how cheesy the background looks and less about what you are saying.

On the other hand, virtual backgrounds can add variety and amusement to informal events. A teacher friend of mine uses them for his online classes to great effect. It spices up the standard lecture format. Virtual background templates can also be entertaining for informal meetings with staff and colleagues where the goal is socialization and not the exchange of information.


Studio Setup

Are you presenting from a well-equipped video studio location or your home office? If you’re presenting from a well-equipped video studio that includes a green screen (or green walls), studio lights, and trained staff, you could definitely add in a virtual background of a tropical location or a multi-media background to show slides and videos. This use could enhance your presentation without being distracting.

On the other hand, if you are presenting from a poorly-lit home office on your laptop computer, a virtual background template could look glitchy around the edges and distract your audience. Unless you’re doing an informal event at home, it could be best to avoid virtual background templates.


Recorded or Live

Are you going to pre-record your event or will it be live? If you’re pre-recording an event, a virtual background could enhance the enjoyment and impact of your talk. It also might allow you to easily insert slides, videos, and music. Rather than being distracting, the background could emphasize the key points of your presentation.

On the other hand, if your event is live, you probably want to avoid a virtual background template, unless you are presenting in a well-equipped studio with trained staff to operate the equipment. Otherwise, the virtual background could be poorly executed and look fragmented or give you a weird halo.

So what should you do to spice things up? With no end in sight for COVID-19 meeting restrictions, virtual background templates might be a tempting solution to increase visual excitement. However, before you throw in a quirky template for your next talk, consider your audience, studio set up and if you’re presenting a live or pre-recorded talk. It could make all the difference to how your talk goes over.