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How To Use Zoom For Remote Meetings
April 15, 2020
Zoom is an amazing way for teams to collaborate. Not only is it a perfect substitute for unnecessary business travel and expense, but it's also a fantastic way for teams clustered in multiple locations to work together. Ironically, when used properly, Zoom can often drive better engagement than a face to face meeting, especially when the cameras are turned on.
At the same time, some people struggle with Zoom in meetings and typically there are just a few basic things that if done properly can make Zoom an awesome tool for your team.
To make this simple, we have divided this document up into a few sections as follows:
Section 1: Basic setup
Section 2: Advanced tips and presenting
Section 3: Working remotely
Section 4: Configuring advanced features in your Zoom account
Section 5: Zoom meeting etiquette and meeting best practices
We are aware of the recent unfortunate hacking or “zoom-bombing” of Zoom meetings. We believe these are very serious issues that need to be immediately addressed by Zoom, so we are happy to hear Zoom is already working on improving and increasing its privacy and security measures. We recommend using all the security features available and appropriate to ensure your meetings are safe and secure, including but not limited to using unique passwords for your meetings.
We recommend reading this once all the way through, so you get the big points, but also bookmarking this page for future reference. Enjoy!
Section 1: Basic setup
Zoom is easy to set up. When a non-regular user is invited to a meeting, you receive a link to a Zoom room. If you don’t have the Zoom client (a downloaded Zoom account on your computer), then a browser extension is installed, and you can use Zoom from the browser. This is fine for casual or infrequent use, or use on a PC for which you cannot or should not install software.
If you will be using Zoom frequently, simply download Zoom onto your computer. They offer a free plan with up to 100 participants, with a 40 minute time limit on meetings, or several paid plans, with varying features.
Logging into Zoom
Logging into Zoom is pretty straightforward. You will need to create an account at Zoom.com by inputting your email address and some personal information, and choosing a password. At this point, Zoom will assign you a personal meeting ID which you can use to schedule meetings and invite others to join.
Joining a meeting from your PC
Typically, when you join a meeting, it’s from a URL embedded in an email meeting request. Clicking on the meeting request should load the app (if it’s installed) and allow you to join the meeting.
If you don’t have the app installed, the meeting URL will launch your default browser and start the meeting there. If it’s the first time you’ve joined a meeting, you will be prompted to download the Zoom plug-in for the browser you are using. It’s pretty small, so the download is usually pretty fast.
The other way to join a meeting from your PC is to type in the meeting ID into the app. What is cool here is that if you copy and paste the meeting URL into the meeting ID field in the Zoom app, the app is smart enough to parse out the URL and grab the meeting ID.
When you join the meeting, typically you will be asked if and how you want to join audio. HP PCs have great audio, so if you have an HP computer, your best choice is to use computer audio (see the section below on how to manage noise cancellation, which can sometimes be a problem).
You may want to use alternate audio when you have limited network bandwidth on your PC, like when you are using airport, hotel or other lower-bandwidth WiFi®.
If you have a PC that is typically on a good network , then it may make sense to click the “Automatically join audio by computer when joining a meeting” option to save a few clicks in the future.
The first tab labeled “Phone Call” includes instructions for how to dial in. It makes sense if you are joining from a hotel phone or some other place where you need to dial through a switchboard.
The better option for joining by phone is to have Zoom “Call Me.” In this case you just tell Zoom where to call you and the rest happens magically. You can even have Zoom remember the number for future use.
Once in the meeting, you have the option of turning your mic and camera on and off. You will see the options to change this if you hover your mouse on the bottom of the screen and the options will appear.
Joining a meeting from a Zoom room
Usually, if the Zoom room was on the invite, when you look at the schedule tab, you will see the meeting you want to join; and you can just click to join. In a lot of cases, if the room was not included in the meeting, you will need to type the meeting ID into the tablet in the Zoom room.
Unless you are presenting, it's usually a good idea to mute the mic in the Zoom room, especially as the meeting is getting going. Computer mics tend to pick up a ton of noise which can disrupt the meeting for all attendees.
Joining a meeting on your PC when you are in Zoom room
Sometimes it makes sense to join a Zoom room from your PC when you are in a Zoom room that is already on the call. There are two reasons you might want to do this. The first is if you want to present in the room. The second is that you may want to be able to see the slides that are being shared in the room, but you want to see it on the screen right in front of you.
To join the meeting, you want to be sure that your audio is off, so do not join audio. This is a case where you want to NOT preset the “automatically join audio” option on your PC since it leads to feedback. In general, you also don’t want to have your camera on since the room will likely have a camera.
So, when you see the “join audio option” close the box and don’t join audio.
If you accidentally join audio (and come on, we have all done it) it’s easy to fix this by simply “unjoining audio.” The easiest way to do this is to hover your mouse to the lower left-hand side of the screen and click “leave computer audio.”
Similarly, if you accidentally turn your camera on, you can easily turn it off by clicking on “stop video.”
Setting up your microphone
Improperly setting up your mic is one of the easiest mistakes you can make to screw up a perfectly good Zoom session. There are usually two issues. The most likely issue is that noise cancellation is turned on and set to “just me.”
Noise cancellation is a great feature and the ability to have the mic point at JUST YOU when you are at a coffee shop or an open work environment is super cool. The problem is that you must be directly in front of the microphone. So, if you are working at home and you move your head or you are a pacer, the mic can’t see you.
A better solution is to have noise cancellation on (to clear things up), but to have it set to multiple voices so that you can 1) move your head and 2) have more than one person in the meeting.
Using side by side
Side-by-side is one of the coolest secrets in Zoom. Side-by-side is basically a split screen that separates your screen into two windows within the Zoom window, one side for faces and one side for the slides. And you can adjust the split of the screen real estate between faces and slides.
To enable it, in the Zoom settings (access from the “gear icon” in the top right of the Zoom home screen), click on General (first tab) and select “side-by-side mode.”
Sharing content basics
Content sharing is obviously one of the main reasons to use Zoom. The best way to do content sharing is by using two screens (so you can control what exactly is shared). But for this section we will focus on simple sharing from a single-screened device.
There are two ways to do this. You can either share a single particular application or you can share your entire screen. Zoom also enables you to share a portion of your screen.
Sharing your entire screen is certainly the easiest thing to do, but the challenge is that when you share your entire screen, everything is shared and multi-tasking (note-taking, IM, etc.) is impossible.
Instead, a better method is to share only the app you want to share. This is great if you want to share a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel spreadsheet. What is cool is that the app continues to be shared even if your app focus is some other app – like Skype for taking input or Word for taking notes.
To share your screen, go to the bottom of the screen and click on the green “share button.”
Once you do that, you will see a screen that gives you the option of sharing either your entire screen or just an individual app.
To stop sharing, just click on the “stop sharing” button at the top of the screen.
Note that it is typically not possible to have two people sharing at the same time.
Section 2: Advanced tips and presenting
Setting up a second screen
Using a second screen (dual monitor) on Zoom will improve your Zoom experience significantly; by more than a factor of two. There are two places where it makes the most difference.
As an attendee, two screens let you put faces on one screen and content on another which makes it much easier to follow along with the content while making “eye contact” with the other attendees of the meeting.
As a presenter having two screens lets you designate one screen to “broadcast” to the meeting and saves the other screen to see faces of the other attendees of the meeting.
Three screens can up your game even more. When you are attending a meeting, you can use the third screen to take notes. When you are presenting, use one to broadcast, the second to see faces, and the third to preview slides or control PowerPoint.
To set up a second screen in Zoom, go to the home screen of Zoom and click on the “gear” settings button.
Under “Content Sharing” click on “Use dual monitors.”
Our best advice when sharing on a dual screen PC is to use one of the screens as the place you share content. If you are presenting, you can share your PowerPoint deck to that screen. If you are doing more general sharing, it’s easy to drag over your web browser or some other app like Word from another screen so people can see what you are doing.
Two weird things you might encounter with PowerPoint. The first is that sometimes PowerPoint seems random in terms of which screen it tries to present on. Quick fix: you can control this by clicking on the “Slide Show” tab in the PowerPoint ribbon and select the monitor on which you want to present.
The other odd thing that can happen is that sometimes PowerPoint will share the “Presenter View” to the screen instead of the slides. The easiest way to fix this is to click on the “Display Settings” tab and hit “Swap Presenter View and Slide Show.”
Muting and unmuting
It’s key to get this right when using Zoom. As mentioned above, unless you are in the main room of a meeting or in a one on one, the best advice is to stay muted on the call. You can mute and unmute by clicking on the lower left side of the screen (when you are attending) or as a drop down on the top of the screen when you are presenting.
It’s important to note that you can also set up Zoom to allow you to use the spacebar to mute and unmute your mic.
To make sure this is on, go to the “Audio” tab of the “Setting” screen and turn on “Press and hold SPACE key to temporarily unmute yourself.”
In this mode you can press and hold the spacebar like you are keying the mic on a two-way radio.
Note that if you have a headset with a mute button you can select “Sync buttons on headset,” then press the mute button on your headset to control the mute status in Zoom. There are also ways to create macros to control this from a mouse button.
For these mute and unmute buttons to work, you need to have Zoom as the app that is selected.
Zoom chat is perhaps the most dangerous feature in the product. It allows you to broadcast things to the group, but also lets you have a one-on-one chat with an individual. In general, it is great for sharing a link or something to the full group.
The problem is that the UI for Zoom chat is so confusing that it's easy to accidentally send a message to the group that you meant for an individual person.
Pro tip: Use Skype for Business for one-on-one IMs.
Setting up an ad hoc meeting
One of the cool things about Zoom is that you can use it for a quick one on one or check-in with a colleague, customer, or partners in one click. You can do this by going to the home screen in Zoom and pressing “New Meeting.”
When you do this, the URL for the meeting is automatically copied into your clipboard. One easy trick here is to reach out to the other person in Skype or email, agree to meet and then just paste the URL into the message so that your meeting partner can click on the link and join.
Another great way to do an ad hoc meeting is to use the contacts feature of Zoom. Then you can start meeting with regular contacts by calling them. To do this, go to the “contacts” tab of the Zoom home screen. You can also use this feature to call a room.
Have your own virtual room
Zoom allows you to have a standing room for doing meetings. This is a cool feature because you can create a dedicated URL. The good news is that you have an easy-to-remember URL (and an associated 9 number Zoom ID). The bad news is that you have an easy to remember URL and Zoom ID.
To set this up, you need to go to the advanced features tab in the Zoom app and click on “View Advanced Features.”
How to have Zoom update your Skype for Business status
One issue with working in Zoom is that when you are in a Zoom meeting, people who might want to contact you on Skype don’t know that you are in a Zoom meeting. To solve this, use the Zoom plug-in for Skype which will update your Skype status as you go into and leave a Zoom meeting.
Using more than one camera
Having more than one camera for a meeting is a key feature to make meetings with multiple presenters more effective. If you are a product company there are also times when you want to let remote people look at the product you are looking at while still sharing the headshot from your end. One example: a curation session where you want to be seen, but also want to show the item or experience being discussed.
The easiest way to do this is to plug in an external USB camera – either handheld or mounted on a tripod – and then use that to point at the thing that needs to be viewed. This second camera is treated like sharing content in the Zoom context.
To turn this feature on, you need to go to the “Share” button in Zoom and then click on the “Advanced” button at the top. When you get there, you simply click on “Content from 2nd Camera” and you are good to go. Bear in mind that when you do this, you can’t share other content.
Once you are in this menu, you can change which camera you are sharing by clicking on the upper left-hand corner of the shared screen.
Sharing video or audio
Sometimes in a meeting, you want to share a video (or an audio clip). By default, audio sharing is turned off during presentation mode – mostly because you wouldn’t want local sounds being sent to the other side. When you are sharing a video, however, you typically want to have the audio available.
To enable this, when you share the app or screen, simply click on two buttons for “Share computer sound” and “Optimize for full screen video clip” as appropriate. Optimizing uses a bit more CPU power for the sharing, but it makes the video smoother.
Letting others control the presentation
Sometimes you have the presentation loaded on a PC in one location, with the presenters in multiple locations. One way to control slides is for the presenter to say, “next slide” and then let the person with the PC do the clicking. Another approach is to give the presenter control of the presentation – remotely.
One way to do this is for the person who wants to present to click on the “View Options” tab at the top of the shared screen and click “request control.” The presenter can also give control to another attendee in the meeting. Of course, the person who wants to take control needs to be on a PC.
Using virtual backgrounds
This is getting popular mostly because it’s so much fun. With Zoom you can use a virtual background to either make people think you are someplace that you are not, or just to hide the clutter in the place where you are.
You can use a green screen to help Zoom implement the virtual background. But as of the summer of 2019, there is some software in the Zoom client that places the virtual background even if you don’t have a green screen.
You can choose a virtual background by going into the settings screen in Zoom and then selecting “Virtual background.”
Once there, you can either choose one of the stock photos that Zoom includes or click “Add image” to use any jpeg image you want.
Pro tip: Even if you have a green screen, don’t click on the “I have a green screen” button. If your camera has a wider angle than your green screen (and Zoom thinks you have a green screen), it will only “project” the virtual background on the green screen. If you turn that option off, then the virtual image will fill the whole area behind you. Using a green screen just makes the whole thing work a little bit better.
Section 3: Working remotely
Zoom on a phone or tablet
You can run Zoom on an Android, iOS phone or tablet. There are a few modes for this, but it starts with getting the Android or iOS store app as appropriate. Once you do this, it’s best to log on to your account before the meeting (since the process can require some security steps).
Sometimes, you will want to use the app to truly join the meeting with audio and video, but sometimes, you will use the app to just join by phone. A cool feature here is that you use the Zoom app to call your phone, which is super easy.
Tips for low bandwidth situations
There are times – for example when you are using your PC on legacy 4G or a public WiFi network, where the network simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to share audio, video, and slides at the same time.
While one approach is to turn off video (easy to do), another choice is to reduce the load on the network by moving audio to a secondary device like your phone. In this case, you can simply join the audio by phone or another device. It’s also easy to switch mid-meeting by hovering on the “mute” button in the lower left-hand corner.
Dual screens on the road
If you can’t tell, dual screens are the secret of a great Zoom experience. While you can use the split-screen feature of Zoom, the magic is having a true second screen.
Of course, hauling a full monitor around can be a pain. The good news is that HP makes portable monitors that use a single USB-C® cable to both drive the display and power the display.
Section 4: Configuring advanced features in your Zoom account
Setting up rules for meetings you host
There are a ton of parameters you can configure in the Advanced Settings for your Zoom Profile. You get there by going to the “Advanced Features” button in the settings menu off the Zoom Home Screen.
While we will go through each setting, there are three that we recommend changing from the default:
The first is “Host Video.” Set your default to “on” so that you set a good example when you host a meeting. Obviously, this is a matter of preference.
The second is “Mute Participants on Entry.” People often join from a noisy place and if there are a lot of people on the call, it’s totally annoying. The downside here is that when a participant who is new to Zoom joins a meeting for the first time, they can have trouble unmuting, so you must coach them. On balance, we suggest you turn this on.
The third is “Upcoming Meeting Reminder.” If you turn this on, you’ll get a popup in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop. It also sends a message to your phone when the Zoom client is loaded. It’s a bit annoying but on balance, you may like it.
In terms of other features:
Participants video: You can set this up to turn everyone’s camera on by default.
Audio type: Leave this on Telephone and computer audio.
Join before the host: This allows people to join the meeting before you do. There are reasons why you might not want this, but on balance it is a matter of personal preference.
Use Personal ID when scheduling a meeting: Leave this off so that each meeting has a unique number which makes it hard for the wrong person to come to your meeting. If you want to have a recurring meeting or make it easy for people to always come to your meeting, then you might turn this on.
Generate and require a password for participants joining by phone. This gives an extra level of protection to your meeting.
Managing noise from other people
In almost every meeting you will ever attend, some poor person will have their mic on when they are running through the airport, ordering a latte, or perhaps “taking care of business.”
If you are the host of the meeting, this is easy to fix by clicking on the “Manage Participants” button on the bottom of the Zoom screen. Once in that menu, you can hover over every user and control their camera and mute status. On the bottom of the screen you can also “Mute All” which is an important feature to know.
Turning the entry bell on-and-off
Zoom has a useful, but truly annoying feature that rings a bell when a new person joins your meeting. You can turn it off in your profile if you like. However if you are running a confidential meeting and you want to know when someone has joined, it may make sense to turn it on.
To turn it off by default in the meetings that you set up, go to the setting menu in the Zoom home screen and click on “View Advanced Features.”
Section 5: Zoom meeting etiquette and meeting best practices
This section is clearly based on a ton of opinions and you may have your own.
At the highest level, the etiquette of Zoom is that we should, as much as possible, behave in Zoom meetings the way we would want people to behave in person.
In general, you should turn your camera on. Remember the primary reason to use Zoom is to avoid having to travel to a remote location, so presence is about being seen and seeing others.
As mentioned in the camera section, avoid multi-tasking. It’s annoying when people multi-task when they are in the physical room and it’s even more tempting when you have hands and eyes on a PC because you are in Zoom.
The easiest way to avoid this is to run Zoom full screen on your computer, but it's easy to cheat if you are using multiple monitors or have two or more PCs.
One important thing if you do decide to multi-task is to keep your microphone muted since as annoying as multi-tasking is, listening to the clickety-clack of your keyboard is even MORE annoying.
Groups at work
If you are in a location with even one other person on the same Zoom call, go to a conference room and get on Zoom together. You will have more of a team connection by clustering in the meeting with other people.
Make sure that there is a meeting facilitator who is watching the screen of faces to see if there are people with questions or comments to add. This can be especially important for meetings with more than one high-level presenter. It’s also good if each presenter pays attention to people who are remote and may have things to add.
Often people wonder if you can have a camera pointed at more than one presenter. There are three good ways to make this happen. The first is that in many corporate Zoom rooms there are actually two cameras, one in the front of the room (which you can use to capture the attendees) and one in the back that can be used to see the presenter. You often need to aim each camera manually so that you don’t end up seeing the back of the presenter.
Another method is to set up a small, portable USB-camera on a PC in the room (for example the presentation PC) on a small table-top tripod and put it in front of the other presenter. In this case, it’s important to turn the audio off on the PC with this extra camera.
The final method is to basically combine the first two tricks: 1) use the two cameras in the room to capture one presenter and the room and then 2) use a separate camera on the PC to capture the other presenter.
When someone is presenting remotely, another pro-tip is to set the room to highlight the video of the person speaking. While this does make it harder to see other attendees, it does make it easier to focus on a remote presenter.
No matter how good the noise cancellation is on your PC or in-room system, by the nature of lots of places, having an open mic can be distracting to other attendees. This is especially important in big meetings with lots of people moving around (and when people are eating or such).
In general, the best practice is to keep your mic muted unless you are presenting, especially if you are taking the meeting from a public place. As a meeting leader, you can mute and unmute the individual mics for each attendee.
It is important, especially in large meetings, for the meeting leader to have the attendee list open so that they can mute people who accidentally leave their mic open. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who the source of the noise is, since their window will light up with a yellow border indicating that they are the source of the noise. They can always unmute themselves as necessary.
A quick survey around the room is a great way to make people feel included.
Using the attendee window of Zoom is a great tool to make sure that you don’t forget to include anyone.
The room recording
You should never record a meeting unless everyone on the meeting is aware that you are doing this and has given consent. Also, in general, it is not a good idea to record working meetings since the content would be accessible to people who were not in the meeting.
The exception to this rule is cases where you want to capture a training session that needs to be repeated or to capture small segments of a meeting that need to be used for an action item later (for example a demo or a short narrative where a clip is easier to use than notes). Even in these exceptional cases, be sure to get consent from the attendees.
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