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Top Tips for Zoom Video Calls

February 26, 2021

Skt News Article February 2021 Featured Image Zoom Tips

Zoom, an online, internet-based videoconferencing software option, has proven invaluable during the pandemic. Because it’s easy to use and low-cost, it’s one of the most popular ways to connect virtually, and after undergoing a privacy and security overhaul in 2020, it’s much safer. Not only are businesses, government entities, and schools leveraging the platform for meetings, collaboration, and remote learning, but also families and friends are using it to socialize and stay in touch as well. Going beyond wine nights with friends, family dinners, and play dates, participation in graduations, weddings, baby showers, and holidays has been ingeniously enabled through Zoom.

If you’re new to the platform, check out our Get Started section. Otherwise, skip on down to our Zoom Tips.

Get Started

Devices

Join a meeting using your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. To be on video, you’ll need a webcam, which usually comes standard on most devices.

Internet

You’ll need a reliable Wi-Fi (or wired) internet connection with up to 3 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload per active HD Zoom call. Cellular data is an alternative option where an internet connection is not available, but it is not recommended without unlimited data.

Tip: If you have multiple users in your household on devices, your bandwidth needs will add up quickly. If you attempt to have multiple video calls at once without the right bandwidth, you may experience buffering or a degraded video feed. You could also have zones of low Wi-Fi connectivity in your home, such as a basement bedroom. Read this article to learn how to optimize your Wi-Fi Network or contact us for a free evaluation.

Account Options

You do not need to create an account to simply join a Zoom meeting. If you want to host meetings, the Basic, Personal Meeting Zoom plan is FREE and meets the needs of most users. It allows up to 100 participants, group meetings for up to 40 minutes, and unlimited one-on-one meetings. Consider upgrading your plan if you’ll be hosting calls with larger groups, your calls will be longer than 40 minutes with three or more people, or you require additional options for your business. Learn more about plan options.

Joining and Hosting a Meeting

If you’re accessing Zoom for the first time, allow additional time before the meeting starts to make sure you have the desktop client or app downloaded. Learn how to join a Zoom Meeting or schedule one yourself.

Tips

It’s easy to trip up and embarrass yourself, whether you’re new to Zoom or you’ve used it a hundred times. Since the pandemic began, there have been stories of people going to the restroom while on a call (even celebrities have made this mistake!) or neglecting to wear appropriate clothing. Kids and pets have unexpectedly joined their parents on national television during news interviews. And there’s the time a supervisor attended an entire meeting as a potato.

For a laugh, search the web for the best Zoom video fails. But don’t let those deter you from using video calls to connect with friends, family, and coworkers. Use these tips to help you avoid any missteps.

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Secure Your Meeting

When scheduling a meeting, Zoom requires a passcode or Waiting Room for additional security. The Waiting Room feature allows the host to control when a participant joins the meeting. As the meeting host, you can admit attendees one by one, or hold all attendees in the Waiting Room and admit them all at once. You can also secure a meeting with encryption, require the host to be present before the meeting starts, remove participants, and more. Learn more about Zoom security measures.

Tip: Use the Waiting Room feature to allow meeting organizers to join prior to the meeting start time.

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Turn Video On/Off

Join a call with or without video. You can also toggle your video on and off during a call.

Tip: Go to Settings to test your video and lighting on desktop without ever joining a meeting. Learn how to manage settings.

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View Participants

Click on “Participants” at the bottom of the screen to see others in the meeting.

Tip: As a meeting host, you have a wide range of controls for participants, such as muting, stopping video, making someone a co-host, removing someone, and more. Learn about managing participants in a meeting.

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Chat With Other Participants

Use the “Chat” button to type a message or share a file with other participants. Depending on your host’s settings, you may be able to send public messages to everyone and/or private messages to individuals.

Tip: If you’re on a large call, it can sometimes be intimidating to speak up. Use the Chat feature to ask a question or make a comment without having to do so live on video or by interrupting the speaker.

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Change Your Layout

When no one in the meeting is sharing a screen, there are three video layout options: Speaker view (shows whoever is speaking in a larger window), Gallery view (thumbnail grid of participants), and floating thumbnail window (allows you to minimize the main Zoom window, but keep the video on top of other applications you have open).

You can also customize your video order, hide non-video participants, pin participants, and spotlight participants. Pin video allows you to disable active speaker view and only view one participant (for regular attendees) or up to nine specific speakers (for hosts). To pin a speaker for all participants, the host can use the Spotlight video feature.

Tip: Use Spotlight to highlight the keynote speaker in a meeting. Learn more about layout options.

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Share Your Screen

Use the Share Screen button to share a presentation, document, web page, and more with other participants on the call. You’ll have the option to share your entire desktop or just one of the windows you have open. Click the Stop Share button at the top of the screen to go back to being a normal participant in the meeting. Learn more about sharing your screen.

Tip: Use the screen sharing featuring to watch a movie or play a game with friends and family. You’ll need to select Share Computer Sound and Optimize Screen Share for Video Clip.

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View a Shared Screen in Side-by-Side Mode

Zoom meeting participants who are viewing a shared screen can switch to side-by-side mode, which allows them to see the shared screen alongside either the Speaker view or Gallery view, depending on which view they choose.

Tip: Adjust the location of the separator between the shared screen and video to change the relative size of each side. Learn more.

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Record Your Meeting

You can record your meetings to your computer (all accounts) or to the cloud (paid subscribers only). There are pros and cons to each, so check out Zoom’s help articles on local recording and cloud recording for details.

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Eliminate Distractions

Particularly on a business call, it’s important to be aware of background noise and potential distractions.

Tip: Consider informing others in your home if you’re going to take a call when you don’t want loud noises or other disruptions. Set rules for kids, so they know when to stay out of your workspace or to be quiet. Be aware of pets – there are few things worse than a barking dog in the middle of a presentation. Try closing (and even locking) your office door or find a quieter part of the house.

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Mute Your Speaker

Muting your speaker can show respect for others on a business call and can help reduce distractions created by background noise. Learn more about muting and other attendee controls. Muting (or not muting, rather) has been a great source of humiliation when some Zoom users thought they were on mute and said something inappropriate, so take care when using it.

Tip: Quickly unmute yourself by pressing and holding the spacebar. See a list of keyboard shortcuts.

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Suppress Background Noise

Zoom also has options for noise suppression which help remove distracting noises that can be picked up by participants’ microphones. Background noise, like paper crunching, keyboard typing, fan noise, dog barking, and other noises can be filtered out to create a better meeting experience. By default, Zoom automatically does do background noise reduction; however, this option can be changed to be more or less aggressive, based on the environment and each case. Learn how to change the settings.

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Consider What’s in Your Video Background

What are others going to see behind you? A mess? A blank wall? People will definitely judge you by your background – there’s even a Twitter handle dedicated to rating backgrounds – so it’s worth your time to consider what furniture, plants, knick-knacks, art, and other items you want to display (or not).

If that’s not your thing, Zoom’s Virtual Background feature allows you to display an image or video as your background during a Zoom Meeting. This feature works best with a physical green screen and uniform lighting, which allows Zoom to detect the difference between you and your background, but it is not required. You can even upload your own images or videos as a virtual background.

Tip: Use a virtual background to hide clutter or people walking behind you. Learn how to add, change, or disable a virtual background.

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Use (and Remove) Meeting Filters

For Those Who Do and Who Do Not Want to Be a Cat …

Zoom has free filters to touch up your appearance or make meetings more fun. You can wear a pizza hat or a crown of flowers, a pirate eye patch or bunny ears – and it’s easy to select and switch filters depending on your mood (and audience).

Tip: Check your filter settings before jumping on a call, particularly if you’re using Zoom for both business and friends/family. One manager spent an entire meeting as a potato and a lawyer accidentally joined an important call with a Judge using a cat filter. As you can imagine, these led to viral videos and memes. If this is the stuff of nightmares for you, find out how to avoid this cat-astrophe and read more in this article from Zoom or click here for information on other video enhancements.

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Leave a Meeting

To leave the meeting at any time, simply close the Window.

Zoom has a large library of FAQs and videos to help improve your experience. Check them out in the Zoom Help Center. Next up, we’ll have tips on how to improve your video, lighting, and background on a virtual call. Click the link below to read more.

Get More Video Call Tips