If Zoom hadn’t yet entered your vocabulary pre-2020, the pandemic ensured it did. Whether for a recruitment interview or a team meeting while working from home, everyone is expected to know how to use Zoom these days.
But how do you optimize your Zoom calls? Are you aware of Zoom meeting etiquette? With these Zoom meeting tips and tricks, you’ll be ready to tackle any type of virtual meeting better than a kung-fu panda. Let’s go!
Assuming you already have an account or can figure out how to sign up, we’ll give you some Zoom meeting tips and tricks to up your video conference game!
While this is not a Zoom meeting hack, it helps you give a more professional impression by changing your Zoom profile—login to your dashboard and select Profile in the left-hand menu.
You can now update your display name (what the others see in the meeting interface), add a photo of yourself that’s shown when your camera is turned off, add your job title, and more.
A virtual background can help camouflage your room and keep your privacy and professionalism. If you don’t see the option in your Zoom interface, take the following steps:
In your Zoom dashboard, click on Settings. In the menu that appears to the right, click on In Meeting (Advanced).
Tick the checkbox that says “Allow use of videos as virtual backgrounds”.
You should now be able to select a background in your Zoom meeting panel.
Look for the little shield icon in the top left corner. Click on it, and a window called Settings appears. Click on Virtual Backgrounds to activate your background of choice.
You can also upload your own background image as long as it follows Zoom’s official guidelines.
Having the laptop camera on eye level is good Zoom meeting etiquette. If you’re looking down on it, it can seem arrogant, plus you risk giving others an unwanted glimpse up your nostrils.
If your table is too low, a solution can be to place your laptop in a box.
On the other hand, avoid sitting below your camera, which has the opposite effect – making you seem less powerful and confident.
It’s always odd to attend a meeting with someone whose face is not clearly visible because the room is too dark. Avoid this unprofessional and awkward situation by being in a clear-lit room, and if necessary, have a lamp pointing at your face or slightly above your face.
Few things interrupt the flow of a Zoom meeting as a bad internet connection. This leads to delays and frozen images, and everyone awkwardly estimates whether they should say something or not. While it sometimes feels like there’s no Zoom meeting without tech issues, you can minimize the risk of running into problems by staying close to a router.
Note that to enable the built-in live transcriptions in Zoom, you need version 5.0.2 or higher, regardless of OS or device.
These are the steps to enabling live transcription in Zoom:
You need to be the meeting host. Click Live Transcript in the meeting.
You can choose
Closed captions, meaning that you or another participant type the captions
Integration with a third-party API
Live transcription by Zoom. Choose the latter by clicking “Enable Auto-Transcription”. Participants will be notified that the transcription is available.
Please note that you must activate transcriptions in the API first (if you don’t see this option, you may need to upgrade your Zoom version to 5.0.2 or higher).
Zoom currently supports live transcriptions in English. Note that the native live transcription feature is somewhat sensitive to noise and requires the speaker to speak clearly. It leaves little room for dialects.
Airgram offers extended live transcription in eight languages. The benefit of using Airgram is that it uses an AI assistant for improved transcription – it’s thus less sensitive to dialects and accents than the native transcription functionality. Airgram live transcription also comes with speaker detection so that everybody can clearly see who says what.
Finally, exporting your notes to common note-taking software like MS Word or Google Docs is a breeze.
To better drive home a point, explain specific steps or show a PowerPoint presentation, you can share your screen with the meeting participants. Simply click the green-marked button on your control panel (at the bottom of the screen):
You will then get redirected to a window showing all your open applications. Click on the one you want to share – for example, a tab in Chrome or a pdf you’ve downloaded and can access through your pdf reader.
You’ll now see yourself in a tiny window, the application you chose to share (which is now visible to everyone), plus a floating control panel. Click “Stop sharing” to quit sharing mode and return to the call.
Zoom even offers an advanced feature of live streaming meetings to Facebook.
In that same panel, you have a Security icon:
The Security feature is relatively new on Zoom. It allows you to lock the meeting room to prevent unwanted intruders from overhearing sensitive information.
Once everyone has joined the meeting, click on the Security icon (the shield). A menu shows up:
Choose the option “Lock Meeting”. This is like virtually locking the door to your meeting – now, no one can enter the call, even if they have the Zoom link and password.
You can also suspend unwelcome participants and even report them for intrusive behavior during or after the meeting.
Each participant can mute/unmute themselves. That said, sometimes it’s practical to be able to mute multiple people at once. You do this by clicking on the icon Participants:
A list of all participants will show up on the right. If you scroll down to the bottom, there’s a button saying Mute All. Click that button to mute all participants.
Alternatively, you can mute them one by one by hovering over their name and clicking on the Mute button that appears.
Bonus hack: to mute all participants with a few keyboard strokes, press Cmd+Ctrl+M on Mac or Alt+M on PC. Press the same set of keys to unmute everyone.
Did you know that Zoom comes with a messenger function? You can use it to send messages to all participants or private messages to selected persons. You can also deactivate this function for the participants or allow them to send messages to only you.
Airgram offers collaborative note-taking. Co-edit the meeting notes live and export them quickly and easily to all common text editing apps afterward.
Breakout rooms are a great feature allowing for more intimate conversations. It lets you split participants into smaller groups and discuss a subject more in-depth. Set a time limit for how long time each pair or group has to talk through the topic – then you all reunite in the Zoom meeting to share your findings.
When attending meetings virtually, we may misinterpret facial expressions and body language and think a person has finished talking. Lag time and slow internet connections further add to this potential confusion. Avoid interrupting others by using the Raise Hand feature.
Using the “Raise Hand” feature is a polite way of announcing you have something to share without interrupting the speaker. If you are the meeting host, make sure to let the people who raised their (digital) hands speak.
It can seem unnecessary to unmute yourself just to say goodbye – especially in a larger meeting where you may not have talked that much. However, saying goodbye is good Zoom etiquette and proves that you’ve been present during the meeting.
If you’re leaving a smaller meeting earlier, it’s polite to write in the chat that you need to leave or unmute yourself during a pause and say that you have to go.
Now you know what to do on Zoom – but it’s as important to know what not to do. Make sure to master these Zoom meeting etiquette tips to make a great impression on your fellow meeting participants.
Leaving your microphone on while someone else is talking interrupts the flow of the meeting. Suddenly, everyone is focused on the background noise – traffic, family members talking, a colleague tapping on their keyboard – and the elephant in the room is: who will say something? It is disturbing, distracting, and downright disrespectful. So learn to locate that mute button.
This Zoom meeting tip may seem obvious, but if you have any video call experience, you’ve probably experienced a situation where someone tries to talk – and the other participants yell in unison, “you’re muted!”. You don’t want to be that person.
Especially if you spend your whole workdays on camera, it can be easy to get self-conscious and keep checking how you look. Try to avoid checking yourself out, at least when speaking. Look into the camera to connect with your interlocutors and make a stronger, more confident impression. Minimizing your image can be a tip if you find this hard.
You don’t want to end up turning into a kitten during an important stakeholder meeting – and thus turn into the next meme.
If you get a popup notification telling you you’re ready to upgrade your Zoom version, wait until after the meeting. There’s no rush. Your Zoom will work fine during the meeting – the only purpose of the notification is to tell you that another version is available.
You may think you have a sufficient battery for a shorter meeting. But there’s always the chance of the meeting going overtime – and you don’t want your laptop to suddenly blackout in the middle of a critical conversation.
Zoom found its place in the limelight in 2020 when it – together with other video conference software – enabled the world to stay connected. The software is constantly evolving, and while you don’t need to know every setting, it’s handy to know your way around Zoom.
With these tips, you’re set to get good meeting etiquette and unlock technical features for more productive meetings.
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.