New to ZOOM?
Tips to Navigate this platform
I chose ZOOM to host my webinars and conference platforms because I liked the options it offers to integrate with my calendar and it was easy to use. If you are new to zoom, there are a few tips straight from zoom to get started.
Getting the right license and software downloaded
Step 1: Create a Zoom account – it’s free to sign up! There’s a Pro version available, but if you just need a quick solution to meet on video, the free version provides all the capabilities and features you need. Either way, it takes about 30 seconds to sign up for a Zoom account. Here are the main differences in a nutshell:
Zoom Basic: This is the free version. Great for 1:1 unlimited video calling and group calls (40-minute time limit if you’re the meeting host). You also get unlimited direct and team messaging capabilities with Zoom Chat.
Zoom Pro: For $14.99/month, you get all of Basic plus enhanced admin controls on your meetings, in addition to cloud recording. Compare plans and pricing to find out the best one for you.
Step 2: Download the Zoom Meetings software on your desktop and mobile. You can find the download center here. From there, just sign in, and you’re ready to go!
Get set up.
I don't want to recommend you get any fancy equipment, but if you do want to make the investment to improve your video quality, sound and lighting, I do have some suggestions.
First of all, test your built-in webcam on your laptop or desktop. I have a mac and it offers 1080-HD quality video, but I think my iphone video works even better. Zoom offers an app you can download and use your phone for video. If you do choose to use a phone, make sure you prop it up on a secure surface to avoid shakiness or any movement, which can be very disconcerting to your viewers.
If you do like to have the video from your laptop or need your phone available for other tasks while you are video conferencing, consider a Logitech Brio webcam. My desktop and iphone video are comparable to this quality, if not better, so I wouldn't spend the money on it unless you have an older computer or phone that are unusable.
A set of airpods can also help improve your sound quality. If you are making a video for your website or business, I suggest ditching the headphones, but they work great for a conference call to limit outside noise, boost your sound and mitigate distractions.
You can find more tips on lighting in my course, but a window can light your face wonderfully. Use natural light whenever possible. If you need additional lighting, I have a small ring light that I like to use. I like this one because it is small and has a great, adjustable stand for my phone, which is what I use for most of my videos.
Test it Out
Zoom also offers adjustments for your bandwidth and internet. If your internet connection is spotty, zoom will automatically prioritize audio which is another great feature I love.
When you’re all set up with the software, the setup, and your internet, go to www.zoom.us/test to test your audio and video. You’ll join a quick test meeting to help get your communication settings all squared away.
More tips from zoom:
Virtual backgrounds (image or video) to hide chaos
Everyone loves experimenting with zoom's virtual backgrounds because they can be funny or interesting, but my rule of thumb is to avoid them in professional situations. They are more distracting than helpful, in my opinion. Just tidy up your background and find a space without distraction.
Holding the spacebar on the keyboard to temporarily unmute
This is a tip from the zoom website. You can stay on mute in large meetings, which is advisable so your doorbell or dog barking isn't picked up. You can hold the spacebar to unmute for a quick pop-in which is easier to manage than changing your settings.
Whiteboarding (also from zoom)
Zoom supports real-time collaboration through the whiteboard feature. While whiteboarding can be difficult from most devices without a touch screen, consider joining the meeting with an iPad and then share/whiteboard on the iPad.
Integrate your calendar
I use Gmail, so I’m going to go through that specific workflow, but you can find more on calendar integration here if you use Office 365 or Exchange.
Go into your Zoom Admin Portal and connect your calendar. (Takes about 1 minute)
Go install the Zoom for G-Suite plug-in to make it super simple to add Zoom Meeting links to all your calendar events.
Here’s a <1-minute video on how to integrate your calendar (Gmail demo):
Annotating over shared content
Making design or doc edits is so much easier when you can jointly annotate and make edits. Make sure you leverage the co-annotation capabilities to simplify collaboration.
Leverage in-meeting chat to share files & resources
I use in-meeting chat as a way to share links or resources that may be discussed in the meeting. For example, team members will share Google docs, URLs, or just quick comments (as to not disrupt ongoing conversations).
Enable “Touch Up My Appearance” for a subtle video enhancement
This capability can be enabled via your Zoom settings. It helps reduce under-eye baggage and mild skin blemishes, giving you a more polished look.
Secure your meeting experience
Your office setup might be dialed on your security preferences, but your remote working setup might need some help. Zoom has a ton of great features to protect your meetings and provide privacy. With Zoom, you can:
Lock your meeting and require a password to join
Enable the Waiting Room feature and admit/boot users only when you’re ready to have them join
Restrict meeting participants to only authenticated users with the same domain
Enable a watermark on audio and video if your meeting content is sensitive
Limit screen sharing to content from a specific application rather than your entire desktop, so participants can’t accidentally get eyes on something they shouldn’t.
Other work-from-home tips
Trips to the coffee maker, the water cooler, or in-person meetings typically break up your day at the office, and it’s important to keep up similar routines at home. Our main recommendation is to keep up your routine just as you would if going into an office. Doing all the things you do in the morning — brushing your teeth, showering, eating breakfast, etc. — will help you embrace the change and stay focused.
Here are a few other work-from-home tips from some of our Zoomies:
Get dressed: Get dressed from head to toe. You should put on a shirt or outfit you’d normally wear to the office work and not the ratty old shirt you’d wear to clean your garage.
Take 5 regularly: Just like the office, proactively take breaks every hour to avoid burnout. Take the dog for an extra walk (your dog will love it!), put in that load of laundry, or spend 15 minutes outside with the kids (they’ll love it, too!).
Stretch! Stop your video and stretch yourself a little bit every hour. Take a lap around the kitchen in between calls or use a lacrosse ball or massager on your back to stave off the kinks. Or make it more fun and use a virtual video workout background and get your reps in during a meeting!
Communicate your availability: Publish your calendar so others can see it and quickly understand your commitment. You can block off time for work on projects, set reminders for important tasks, and even reserve a time to get dinner started. You can also toggle your Zoom Chat status to busy when you need to be heads-down on a project.
Eliminate distractions: Shut the door to give yourself some privacy and separation, especially at home. Even hanging a curtain to separate your space can help. You’ll also want to close tabs and pause notifications so you’re not tempted to constantly check social media. Even setting a 10-minute meeting or two throughout your day to specifically check your feeds can give you a break and something to look forward to.
But avoid isolation & loneliness: Many people need that personal contact with their team, so it’s helpful to have daily team stand-ups and check-ins. You can even set up a “group lunch” with your colleagues over Zoom. Talk live or disable the audio and chat with the group or 1-on-1 privately, whatever helps you get the conversation and connection you need.
There are lots of great resources out there on best practices for working from home and hosting digital experiences. Here are a few:
On-Demand Webinar: Best Practices for Working from Home with Zoom
Top 10 PROVEN Tips to Set Up a Temporary Work from Home Office Successfully
Best Practices for Hosting a Digital Event
Solving the Workplace Challenges of the Future with a Video-First Culture
Embracing and securing a remote workforce: Cybersecurity in the time of COVID-19
Tips for a Productive New Groove
Start working from home
Just remember — everyone on your team is most likely in the same boat. A dog barking or doorbell ringing while in a meeting isn’t the end of the world. Do your best to prepare your workspace, adjust to your new routines and work setting, and shrug off the little things. You’re doing great!!