Pro Tips for Zoom Meetings

by Phil Waknell

Zoom has become one of those tools that most people use, but how many of us have actually followed a training course on how to use Zoom properly? Not so many.

At Ideas on Stage we have been using Zoom for years, so when the 2020 pandemic hit, we didn’t discover Zoom, but we did start to discover new features: some that we hadn’t needed before, and some that Zoom introduced as its usage exploded.

Here are some of the tips we’ve learned (often the hard way) on how to use Zoom professionally, and how to make online presentations using Zoom.

BEFORE

Set up parameters

When you create your Zoom meeting, you have many parameters to choose from. For example, do you want to enable surveys? Do you want to enable live streaming to Facebook and/or YouTube?

Two of the most useful features are the waiting room, and automatically muting participants. If you don’t enable the waiting room, participants will just join at any time, and if you are running a webinar for example, you might want to allow participants in only after you’ve finished your testing. You may also choose, in this setting where there are many participants, to mute participants’ microphones automatically as they join; and in a separate setting, you can choose whether they have the ability to unmute their microphones.

If you are running a webinar, you will probably want to mute their mikes and not allow them to unmute them, to preserve sound quality. If, during the meeting, you would like to give a participant the opportunity to speak, you can go to the Participants list and ask the participant to unmute. Once you’ve requested it, they can activate their mike.

There are many other parameters to set. Do you want to automatically record the meeting? Should participants be allowed to share their screens, or annotate your shared screen? These are choices you need to make. Many of these settings are not in the ‘create meeting’ choices: they are in your account settings!

Prepare surveys

There are many third-party tools to create surveys, but if you can use the one directly in Zoom, it’s easier for everyone. At the moment you can only create a survey in the web interface, so while you can do that during the meeting, it’s better to do so in advance. 

Simply go to the meeting page in your Meetings tab on the Zoom web site, scroll to the bottom, and add a survey.

A real pro tip to remember here: when you launch a survey, display the questions and then display the results, these will show on your participants’ screens – but they won’t show up on YouTube if you are streaming live, so your streaming participants will be wondering what is happening unless you explain it orally very clearly.

Configure slides

When streaming to YouTube, and (unless you change the setting) in your recording, if you share your screen, then your webcam video will be overlaid in the top-right corner of your screen. You should therefore avoid using this part of the screen because otherwise your face will hide some words or other content.

It’s also important to remember that on YouTube, Zoom will superimpose its watermark in the bottom-right of the screen, so it’s best to avoid using this part for anything important or text-based. Using the very bottom of the screen isn’t always good anyway, because anyone watching on YouTube and mousing-over the video window will find that their video controls will overlay over the bottom of the screen, hiding whatever is there.

DURING

Co-pilot / Mod

Anyone who is familiar with streaming games on platforms like Twitch will know the importance of one or more ‘mods’ or ‘moderators’: people who aren’t speaking much if at all, but who are there to manage the participants, interact with them via text chat, and control or even expel them if necessary.

In business meetings, I prefer to call this role the ‘co-host, but it’s very similar. If you are the main presenter in a Zoom meeting, it’s very hard to speak and present well and at the same time manage recording, streaming, chat, muting or unmuting participant microphones, launching and hiding surveys, etc.

It’s therefore vital, in important meetings and webinars, to have a ‘co-host’ who can handle all these things, freeing you up to deliver your presentation with far less stress. 

Ensure that each ‘co-host’ is given this role (or the Host role) in Zoom so they have all the privileges to record the meeting, mute microphones, etc.

Second screen

I have a home setup with my laptop screen and a second, external monitor next to it, and I extend my desktop so that, for example, I can move my mouse from one screen onto the next, and have different windows showing on each screen. This enables me to use PowerPoint with Presenter Mode, where I ‘project’ onto the second monitor, while seeing the time, my notes, the next slide etc. on my laptop screen.

In Zoom meetings, I can then simply share the second screen so participants see only what is on that screen. This enables me to show the Zoom chat window as well as other participants’ videos on my first screen even while presenting (currently this seems impossible in Microsoft Teams, where you can only see the video of the last person who spoke before you).

It’s a huge help. I couldn’t imagine presenting in a Zoom meeting with only one screen.

Spotlight

It’s also very important, when one person is going to speak for some time, e.g. in a webinar, to ‘spotlight’ that speaker. This ensures that, by default, all participants will see that speaker’s video and not everybody else. It also ensures that on the video (if you are recording the meeting) that speaker should show up, and not the others.

To spotlight the speaker, a host or co-host simply goes to their name in the list of participants and clicks More, then Spotlight. The spotlight can be canceled in the same way.

AFTER

Edit recording

If you’re running a webinar, you probably don’t want to leave the raw video up there on YouTube. For one thing, you might not have the image rights from participants to share their voice and/or video online. You also might find that the intro, where you’re chatting with people while waiting for others to join, isn’t a great introduction to an online video.

It’s therefore wise to do some basic post-processing on your Zoom video. Hopefully you recorded the meeting locally, not on the ‘cloud’ (this gives better quality), so import this video file into your usual video-editing software, and cut the start and finish to make sure they look and sound right. You might also want to add an introduction card and another card at the end, so that when you upload your video to YouTube, you can overlay links to your other videos or playlists, and a subscribe button, at the end of your video – just as we have done on the video of this webinar.

Share video

If you’re running an important meeting or webinar, you should also share the video with participants, including those who signed up but couldn’t attend. This gives you another opportunity to get your messages across, and since people forget much of what they hear quickly, it’s helpful to give them the chance to watch your meeting again.

Sharing the video also gives you a touchpoint with them so you can ask them for feedback, promote your upcoming webinars, or see whether they’d like to discuss with you one-to-one with a view to buying some services, for example.

Share handout

Slides are not documents, documents are not slides, and people forget most of what they hear in a meeting. It’s always important, therefore, to share a suitable document afterwards. For our webinar on Pro Tips for Zoom Meetings, this article is our handout. 

If you’re using Zoom for a business meeting, you may want to share a summary of the meeting and any decisions that were taken. If you’re using it for a training course, as we often do, you may want to share a detailed course workbook which gives them your full methodology, so they are not reliant on their memory if they need to apply your methods many months after your online course.

These are just some of the ‘pro tips’ we can share on using Zoom. Many of these are also valid in Teams or other platforms. If you’d like our advice or help to imagine, create and deliver your webinars or online events, we’d be delighted to hear from you: just fill in the contact form below.

And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn to be the first to hear about our upcoming webinars and events; and subscribe to us on YouTube for access to all our past webinars and videos. There’s a gold-mine of useful presentation and meeting tips in there, so go digging!