1. The professional
Professional Zoom backgrounds are the bread and butter of businesspeople, professors and leaders alike, but there is something rather characteristic about all professional backgrounds. All of them look like monotone PowerPoint title screens for that one class we all would like to drop — a fancy underline with a rather generic image of an associated institution or theme and the name of the person thoughtfully written out in bold-face Times New Roman font.
2. The minimalist
Minimalist backgrounds can be a blank canvas where the imagination can roam free or a monochrome background that soothes the eyes — and they are not for the faint of heart. Being on center stage doesn’t invoke fear in the faces of those who use minimalist backgrounds. These individuals put themselves in the spotlight — mainly because there is nothing in their background that diverts eyes from them. I secretly admire those who use these.
3. The Cavalier
The University is a beautiful place, so why not showcase it with a Zoom background? This is an easy way to show your love for the University. Make any Zoom conference a picnic on the Lawn, a chat on the Rotunda steps or a hangout session in the amphitheater. This can also be used for those who miss being in the stands at a football or basketball game — and let’s be real, students miss a good sports game. Good times, go Hoos.
4. The in-person class
Just because one’s classes are no longer in-person does not mean that they can’t replace that classroom feeling with a Zoom background! Some love the feeling of being in a lecture hall — Wilson Hall, the Chemistry Building, Nau-Gibson Hall and others — or maybe you’re the small classroom type — Dell, New Cabell Hall and Bryan Hall. Fortunately, Zoom can make that large conference feel small with backgrounds! Studies have shown that different environments can affect learning, so maybe the first step to more productive learning is to make your Zoom call feel more like a classroom.
5. The seasoned traveler
Do you have any beautiful pictures of scenic vistas that you may have taken that one summer between junior and senior year of high school, but nobody ever really appreciated them? Well, Zoom affords us the chance to flex on our photography skills and maybe show off a little bit in the process. That one picture that you really love of Yosemite National Park can finally shine, and — albeit in a Zoom conference — you can have a mini stay-cation from wherever your home is.
6. The copycat
OK, I get it. Choosing a Zoom background creates an unnecessary amount of stress, but what if the perfect background actually belongs to someone else? Please ask someone if you can use their background. I don’t want anyone to fight over who uses the Caribbean sunset in your next politics lecture.
7. The rule breaker
Yes, you can break the rules on Zoom. No, don’t ask me if I have ever done it. I’m talking about that situation when one would upload a picture or video of themself as their background to make it look like they are in class, but they may actually be participating in some in-dorm yoga or indulging in a delicious meal without being seen. It’s great if you don't want to be noticed upon first glance, but as time goes on, it may become a red flag if you aren't blinking or writing any notes during lecture.
8. The teacher’s pet
Posting course-relevant material in your Zoom background? Amazing. Doing it so you can be noticed by that one TA that just makes economics class five times more interesting? Even better. Using Zoom backgrounds that are somewhat related to the course material can show your interest and engagement in a class, which means extra brownie points with professors and TAs. Or it could just be a way to draw more attention to yourself in a massive conference of academics who are really bored and ready to logout for the day. Who knows? Maybe this is a chance for extra credit.
9. The artist
Art can come in many different forms. Even Zoom backgrounds can be art. The Zoom gallery feature is like “Harry Potter” fiction becoming reality — many moving portraits showing a slice into the life of each student as they navigate through a digital world. Make that Zoom gallery a museum by showcasing your favorite famous pieces or your own art via a digital background. Let’s make Zoom conferences like art galleries. Who’s with me?
10. The politician
Zoom background choices can be used to make powerful statements. Although I do not recommend sharing politics with a large group, using a Zoom background to uphold personal beliefs and create a call to action may be rather effective. For example, a background of sea turtles thriving in the ocean could promote a message of being more eco-friendly. This could even work for one’s personal political goals like student governance. The options are endless.