10 Zoom tips and tricks to make working from home better

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This Zoom tips will make you a videoconference pro in no time.
Image: Zoom

With the COVID-19 pandemic running wild, more employees are being forced to work from home. While this does mean you can sip coffee in your pajamas, it also means that you’ll probably be sitting through a lot of videoconferences over the next few weeks.

If your company is like most, Zoom is probably the software you’ll use to accomplish these virtual meetings. Not only is the tool versatile, but it’s also easy to use and has plenty of cool features. With the 10 Zoom tips below, you’ll be videoconferencing like a pro in no time.

If you’re totally new to the software, check out The Burn-In’s guide to getting started with Zoom and then come back for these cool tips and tricks.

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Create a Virtual Background

If you’re in touch with social media, you’ve probably seen photos of employees conducting videoconferences with a background that looks like the beach or space. Twitter has been a goldmine of memes and users looking for the bright spot of being stuck in videoconferences.

To set your own virtual background, hit the arrow near the video camera icon at the bottom of the screen within a Zoom meeting. At the bottom of the tab is an option to “Choose Virtual Background.”

Clicking this opens a settings window that lets you select a background. Zoom comes with a few default images so you can test the feature. However, you can also upload your own image of just about anything. Yes, it also works with GIFs.

Touch Up Your Appearance

Logging in for a virtual meeting can be rough. That’s especially true if stress has left bags under your eyes or a few more wrinkles on your skin. Fortunately, Zoom has a feature that automatically touches up your appearance.

To access it, once again click the arrow next to the camera icon. Then select “Video Settings.” This opens the same settings menu as earlier. Under the “My Video” section, look for the checkbox labeled “Touch up my appearance.”

Checking the box will let Zoom subtly refine your face. Sadly, it can’t animate a pair of dress clothes onto you. Regardless, your coworkers will appreciate the appearance boost and you don’t even have to work for it. Best of all, you are the only person who knows that it’s on.

Share Your Screen

Team meetings can get derailed quickly. However, Zoom’s screen sharing feature lets you stay on track. To activate it, simply hit the green “Share Screen” button that’s found in the bottom menu within a Zoom meeting.

You can then choose what content you want to share. If you’re using multiple displays, you can choose to share just one. You can also share a certain browser window or document to avoid accidentally showing off something personal.

Record a Meeting Transcript

It’s easy enough to zone out of a meeting in person. Videoconferences can be even more tedious. If you want to record the meeting in case you miss something, Zoom has a feature for that. Just select the “Record” icon from the bottom menu. Or, you can use the keyboard shortcut “Alt + R” from within the Zoom window.

To stop recording, hit the same button. Once your meeting ends, Zoom will automatically convert the recording to an MP4 file that will appear on your hard drive. It will likely download to a Zoom folder nested in your Documents folder if you’re on a PC.

See Everyone in a Gallery

If you’re using Zoom to communicate with a large team, you probably want to see everyone in the call. That’s especially true if you’re the boss or are in charge of the meeting.

You can use Zoom’s gallery view to see up to 49 participants simultaneously. By default, only 25 people are shown. However, by going into the video settings menu (again) and checking the box labeled “Display up to 49 participants…” you can collaborate with a larger group.

Read Those Names

In some cases, working from home might mean you’re collaborating with co-workers you don’t often see in person. If you aren’t sure who’s who, there’s a Zoom feature for that.

In the video settings menu you’ll find a checkbox labeled “Always display participant names…”

Turning on this setting displays the name of each participant over their video. This is extremely helpful if you aren’t great with faces.

Test Your Gear

There’s nothing more frustrating than hopping into a Zoom meeting to find that your microphone isn’t working or that your camera is off. As such, you should test your audiovisual equipment prior to joining a meeting.

Within the Zoom desktop app, on the home screen, click the grey settings wheel in the top right corner. In the settings window, select the “Audio” tab. There, you’ll see a button that lets you test your speaker and another that lets you test the microphone.

Use Your Headphones

Although Zoom lets you interact in a virtual meeting using your laptop’s built-in microphone and speakers, you really shouldn’t. Instead, try to use a pair of headphones with an in-line microphone.

Not only will this make it easier to hear your co-workers, it makes your voice come through more clearly on their end. Using a dedicated microphone also helps cut down on echo noise that can disrupt a meeting.

Integrate with Slack

Although your company’s virtual meetings might take place on Zoom, Slack is still an important tool in many work(from home)places. Fortunately, the two programs are able to integrate and work together very smoothly.

You’ll need to ensure that your Zoom and Slack accounts are both set up with the same email address. In addition, you’ll need a paid Zoom plan as the free version doesn’t support Slack integration.

Once you have these things in line, and your company’s administrator has approved the Zoom app, you can integrate it into Slack. In the Slack App Directory find the Zoom app and choose “Add to Slack.” From there, follow the prompts that appear until the installation is complete. You’ll then need to authorize Zoom within Slack from within the apps section of the sidebar before using it.

Once the two are connected, you’ll be able to create and join Zoom meetings without leaving your Slack app.

Stay Patient

Of all the tips discussed, staying patient is arguably the most important. Although Zoom is fairly easy to use, that doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the road. As everyone is adjusting to working remotely, having patience will only make the process smoother—even if you need to set your virtual background as a beach to find your zen.

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