Zoom Pro Tips

Zoom Pro Tips

As a 2-year vet of over 500 Zoom conferences, I thought I’d post this to share with all.

Zoom Pro Tips

Topic Participant Host
1. Your Audio Mic
You can choose to use either a) the microphone on your computer (built-in, headset, etc), or b) the microphone on your phone. In my experience, audio through computers is the most common fail point (e.g. max headroom). If you are an active or key participant, read the host section to the right! When working properly, your microphone at bottom left will show green level/volume when you talk When your audio is critical (you are host or key presenter), consider using your phone for audio:
1) connect to the webcast via computer, don’t choose computer audio, instead
2) use your phone for audio by dialing into the webcast from your phone.
3) Note your participant ID, then dial into your call using the phone. When you enter a participant ID, it will marry your phone connection w/ your computer connection.NOTE: While I’ve found this most reliable, you also lose voice quality as you are going through the POTS rather than using higher-quality audio on your computer.If you are doing this a lot, you should consider a good mic. Personally I like to use gamer headsets but search amazon for ‘podcast microphones’ and you will find some good choices
2. Your Audio Speakers /Headset
If you can, use a headset, which often comes with a good mic. Moving your speakers to your headset ears will reduce chances of audio feedback (saves any other humans in your company from having to listen). I like the Corsair VOID wireless gamer headset but also use a pair of Jabar Elite 65t. I like when I can control the mic volume as I tend to speak softly.

In Zoom you can easily and quickly change to a different headset. I have a backup in case my wireless headset batteries die.

3. Mute As a participant, FIND AND LOVE YOUR MUTE OPTIONS (in Zoom or on your phone). Modern mics work great but also tend to pickup anything making noise around you. If you are not talking feel free to mute yourself. If you are driving or in any loud room it also helps. On laptop, hover over window to see controls: bottom left is audio on/off, video on/off, bottom right is ‘leave meeting’ As a host, be a ‘mute hawk’: you can mute anyone. With newbs on, you will find people roaming around their house trying to find the right spot, often through rooms w/ lots of background noise (even the bathroom!). When you hear background noise you can see on the list of participants where it is coming from: their little phone icon will be emitting green waves. Rather than querying everyone ‘someone has background noise’, I just mute that BG noise. At a break I’ll mention ‘Steve, you have lots of background noise’ or I’ll just unmute them when it appears they are settled/have less noise.

If you have more than 10 people on, you may want to consider having a ‘co-host’ to ride herd on muting and other call issues (only paid for subscriptions): Enabling a Co-host (paid Zoom accounts)


4. Audio Feedback Audio feedback loops are the worst, and yes, they happen in Zoom. This most commonly occurs when people turn on their mic on their laptop in a room that also has a conference phone. You must turn one off. If you hear feedback, immediately mute your mic and turn off speakers (if not using a headset) to see if you are the cause. As host I am always prepared to shut down any audio that I find causing feedback.

If I’m visiting someone and hosting, I also like to get in early to make sure what they have in the room will work. Many things can cause problems: network, rooms, conference phones/no conference phones (I actually carry this eMeet M2 with me in case I need a conference phone, but not cheap)

5. Zoom Personal Room
I use my personal room much like I do a physical office. I will often be in there for anyone to visit me. To make it easy to remember how to share this info, I go into the Zoom Website and set my personal ID to be my cell phone #. Some colleagues use their name.
6. Managing Participants Hosts can do a lot to manage overall quality, so open your ‘participant’ list immediately, even separate it into its own window so you can see everyone on: their audio status (on/off/talking), and their video status. Hover over them lets you easily mute, ask for video, etc. Often people will connect but will have neither audio nor video. You hear the ‘doorbell’ and think you can begin communicating but you cannot.
7. Location You must be sensitive about where you take a Zoom. For work calls, most people have usually settled into a good videocon setting: little to no background noise, headset to reduce noise further, appropriate background. If possible, think about your spot beforehand. If not possible, be aware of your surroundings: cars have a lot of BG noise, outdoors has wind and other BG noise, your spouse talking on a call or watching TV will be very distracting.
8. Helping Connect Video Hosts can prompt people to join video. Many newbs struggle to turn on/off their video, even disconnect. After a few attempts to walk newbs through connecting video, just right-click the camera icon on their participant entry and click ‘ask to share video’. They will be prompted to share video, they click YES and done!
9. Sharing Videos/MP4s or Audio/MP3s Sharing videos or audio can be tricky: the audio from video/audio often can be jittery or not work at all. If possible avoid it. Zoom tries to switch audio to whomever is talking. So to Zoom the audio from a shared video/audio is just another person talking, and will be interrupted by any noise on any line. As host, mute all if you need to share a video/audio.
10. Participate in your own webcast As host stop asking if people if they can ‘see what I’m sharing’. Use your phone or an ipad or another computer to ‘participate’ in your own conference. They you can see what they see, if your share is working, what type of delays people are experiencing. Don’t forget on the 2nd device to mute the mic and turn off the speakers to prevent feedback!
11. Know your Chat By default chat goes to everyone: this can be either a) embarrassing, or b) a great tool (eg. sharing prayer requests). As participant, check twice where you are posting a chat (like ANY chatting tool) As host be proactive about what type of chatting you want.
12. Virtual Background For fun get a cool logo/graphic file (JPG, PNG) and make that your background. Recognize that like a green screen, it will try to replace colors, the wrong BG image will end up making you look like a hologram.
13. Recording Legal? Recording is cool but might be illegal! Many states require that you get permission to record. Know who is on your call and what rules apply. Safest approach is that if you need to record, ask permission. Some have advised that the ‘recording’ icon at top left meets legal guidelines. Everybody (should) act differently when being recorded, so I believe it good etiquette to announce.
14. Location Lighting Consider the lighting at your location. Most cameras do well with existing light, but consider what people are seeing. I was told my room is dark so I bought a light to add some brightness.
15. Camera Eyeballs Align the window of people directly under your camera, especially if you use multiple monitors. Your eyeballs are naturally attracted to the window of people talking, and that way you are looking directly into the camera. I find it annoying when someone spends the entire call with the camera on but looking elsewhere. If you know you are going to be looking elsewhere (not critical to call, have other tasks to work on, just bored), turn your camera off.
16. Camera Covers Consider a cheap sliding cover to cover your camera when not in use.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!