Zoom is one of the best video-conferencing apps available, serving everyone from startups to government agencies. Contributing to its success is an extended free version and a user-friendly interface.
With almost every work meeting taking place in Zoom software nowadays, it’s important to understand how this software works. We’re here with a step-by-step guide, so even the newest user can become an expert.
How to Join a Zoom Meeting
For those of you who are learning how to use the Zoom app for the first time, we’ve got good news. If you want (or need) to join a Zoom meeting that someone else scheduled, you don’t need to create an account. And in some cases, you don’t even need to download and install new software.
In order to join an existing meeting, you only need one of two things: the link to the meeting or a meeting ID.
Joining With a Zoom Link
If you have the link, simply click it or paste it into your browser. You’ll receive a dialog box, prompting you to open the Zoom app.
If you wish to connect without downloading, hit Cancel and click the Launch Meeting button again. At that point, you’ll see a line saying Having issues with Zoom Client? Join From Your Browser.
Alternatively, choose to download the Zoom app, which may be worthwhile if you plan on using it a lot. Once the app is installed on your computer, hit the Launch Meeting button. The Zoom meeting will open up, and you’ll need to input the name you’d like to use in order to join.
At this point, click Join with Computer Audio in order to use your microphone and hear everyone else. If you’re using several audio sources, such as Bluetooth headphones or a monitor with speakers, and wish to have the sound come out through those, click Test Speaker and Microphone instead. Then you can choose the right output for your audio.
Joining With a Meeting ID
You can use the meeting ID to join, instead of a link, but you need to download the Zoom app first.
Launch the app and click Join a Meeting. Then, paste the meeting ID into the popup, along with your preferred display name. The rest of the steps are the same as above. You can now communicate inside a Zoom meeting.
How to Create Your Own Zoom Meeting
Just like the previous section, there are several methods to create a new meeting on Zoom, all of them require you to have an account. However, as mentioned, the free account is usually suitable for most individuals.
With it, you can have as many one-on-one meetings as you want, and host up to 100 people. It’s important to mention, though, that with a group meeting (anything above two people), it’s limited to 40 minutes. For that reason, if you plan on hosting mostly team meetings, it’s better to go Pro.
The first method for creating a new meeting is to start the meeting and ask people to join. This is best for more impromptu meetings. Start by launching the Zoom app and clicking New Meeting. Then connect as usual.
Inside the participants list, there’s a button to invite more people, who you can select from your contacts, by emailing them a link, or by copying the link and sending it to your participants via other apps (such as Slack).
Scheduling a Zoom Meeting
The other option you have is to schedule a meeting for some time in the future and send the invitation to your participants. You can click Schedule in the desktop app, or log into the Zoom website and click the Meetings tab on the left of the page, followed by Schedule a Meeting. Both methods give you roughly the same options.
These options include setting a name and description, a time and date according to your time zone (or a different one, if you choose), and duration. Below are a few more advanced features.
First, you have the possibility to make this a recurring meeting. So if it repeats once a week for the next month, for example, each of these meetings will have the same link. Then, you can choose either to use the automatically generated passcode or create a new one. Free accounts do not allow for meetings without a passcode.
Another good feature to be familiar with is the Waiting Room. If you enable it, you’ll have to authorize the admission of participants manually. This means that you can make sure you’re ready to start and then admit people, or admit the speakers first, for example.
Once you click Save, the meeting appears in your schedule. You can invite people by copying the link or copying the whole invitation, which includes the meeting ID, time and date, and passcode.
Tips and Tricks on How to Use Zoom
After learning the basics, it’s time for you to really become an expert by understanding all the extra features that can push a meeting to the next level.
First, there’s the option of sharing your screen, which is the ultimate collaboration tool. You can find this button at the bottom of the Zoom meeting, and you can choose which screen to share, whether you want to share audio as well, and allow sharing to more than one participant.
Second, is the option to record your meeting, which is also at the bottom of the Zoom window. This is great if you want to send out training to people who couldn’t attend. Just remember to inform your participants that you’ll be recording.
There’s also a chat, where you can send private messages or have group conversations. You can even share files. Don’t forget to mute yourself when not talking, to avoid background noise. You can do that by pressing the microphone button at the bottom left of the screen.
For those who use Zoom from home, you may choose to use a Virtual Background. This allows you to avoid revealing too much of your personal life. You’ll find this button in the menu next to Stop Video. Keep in mind that this only works with newer computers.
Another great Zoom feature allows you to integrate it with your Google Calendar, also for free. Once you do that, you can create an event on your calendar and pick Zoom as the video conferencing option.
It automatically generates a meeting at that time and day, a passcode, and an invitation. So once you add people to that event, they’ll receive all the details.
After learning all these tips, make sure you also learn how to fix common issues on Zoom calls.
How to Use Zoom on Mobile
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Zoom is not just for your desktop; it also works perfectly on mobile, with an easy-to-use interface.
After installing the app, you can join a meeting or sign in. In your home screen after signing in, you’ll see all your upcoming meetings, and you can start a meeting, join one, or share a screen. You can also add people to your Zoom contacts straight from your phone.
Inside a meeting, the features are pretty similar to the desktop version. A few standout features let you reverse your camera, add sounds for people joining or leaving, and mute yourself upon entry.
Don’t Be Scared to Experiment
Zoom has even more options to explore than we’ve explored above, and it gets better with every new software update. Once you understand the basics, you can just open meetings for yourself and experiment with all the features. You may find something that is exactly what you need to run a professional session.
Skype is a longtime favorite, while Zoom is the hot new app. Which is best for you?
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