Zoom video conferencing software for online meetings is new to many people. These simple instructions should help people using Zoom for the first time.

STEP 1 – Choose Your Device

Mobile Device. You may find that Zoom is easier to use and more reliable on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. This is because the camera, microphone, and speakers are all built-in and permanently configured to work.

Laptop or All-In-One Computer. An advantage of all-in-one computers or laptop computers is that the required components are built-in such as webcam, microphone, and speakers. Zoom should be fairly easy to use on one of these devices. If you have an Apple iMac or a Windows computer where the computer is built into your display, then you have an all-in-one computer.

Desktop Computer. On a desktop computer, you would likely need separate components such as microphone, speakers, and camera. Sometimes the camera includes a microphone, but speakers or headphones would be separate. There are also headsets that include a microphone. Your Windows or Apple computer may have multiple sound sources, and this can sometimes complicate the use of video communications software like Zoom or Skype. So, unless you’re quite lucky and everything just plugs in and works, you may need some help with a desktop computer setup. Also, the configuration settings could change from one meeting to the next, so when you go back to use the software later, even if it worked last time, something may not work the next time.

STEP 2 – Install Zoom Software

You will have a better experience with Zoom if you use the Zoom software rather than their website. For some people this will be an easy process, for others not so easy. It depends on your level of tech skills and experience. Refer to our easy links to Zoom software support page. [View]

STEP 3 – Accept Invitaton

When you are being invited to join a Zoom meeting, you will most likely receive a link by text message or email. The invitation may also include the meeting number. You can enter the number in Zoom or click the link as explained below.

ENTER MEETING NUMBER. If you start the Zoom software, and choose Join a Meeting, you can type in the meeting number.

OR

CLICK MEETING LINK. Alternatively, you can click on the link that was sent to you, the Zoom software should automatically be started with the proper meeting number entered.

STEP 4 – Choose Video and Audio Options

Depending on how your Zoom meeting has been configured by the host, you might be able to participate and listen in by calling a meeting phone number. Otherwise, you’ll need the software as described above.

When using a computer or mobile device, there will be a few choices you need to make when joining such as whether you want your video image to be displayed to others or not.

You will also need to indicate your choice for audio settings. You can use your device audio or, call in using a phone (if that option is available). If your device audio works okay you can choose to use it instead of a phone. If you have trouble with your device audio you can use a phone as an alternative if the host allows it.

Troubleshooting

One of the most common problems is when people join a meeting and their microphone is set to mute. If this happens, you can unmute your microphone in the Zoom software. You may need to tap or click your screen to see additional options like the microphone mute on/off option.

Practice Proper Meeting Etiquette

To be effective, online meetings require some additional attention to having people take turns talking. You can use hand gestures like raising your hand or use text messages through Zoom to indicate you have a question. The designated meeting moderator or host will help guide the meeting and identify who will be speaking next.

Depending on the format of the meeting, it is generally best to leave you microphone muted unless you need to talk. For smaller groups this isn’t as much of a concern.

Security

In early 2020, the Zoom software was in the news for what were reported as security vulnerabilities. The primary concern was that meeting links were being shared and anyone could join the meeting who had the link. So, publicly posted meeting links would have disruptive and unwanted participants joining. By April, the Zoom team began to address these issues. Now meetings will have a password to join and/or the host needs to manually accept people who are joining the meeting. This prevents unwanted guests from joining. Other security measures have also been implemented to make the software more robust.

How Zoom Got Its Name

Years ago, when the Zoom software was originally released, what made it unique is the ability for the software to identify the primary person speaking and then automatically “Zoom” the display to show the person speaking. No manual camera switching was necessary.

This feature is still helpful today for small meetings and well organized larger meetings and presentations. If everyone is in a quiet environment, and properly taking turns, then the Zoom software should automatically switch the video to the main person speaking.