Zoom video conferencing is used all over the world for corporate board meetings, client calls, training sessions and webinars.
More recently, Zoom is being used to keep friends and families connected.
This digital app connects two or more people in a way that feels like everyone’s in the same room. Zoom displays the name and video image of each person in the meeting, highlighting the person who is currently speaking. Many would argue that Zoom is better than meeting in person.
How to set up Zoom video conferencing
Setting up your first Zoom meeting is easy — just follow these steps:
- Register as a host.
- Invite people to your meeting or event.
- Running your Zoom meeting.
Before we explain how to set up your first Zoom meeting, let’s explore the uses of this popular meeting software, as well as the plans available.
Who uses Zoom?
Zoom video conferencing can be used to host a wide range of meetings and events, including:
- Staff meetings
- Client calls
- Online tutorials
- Virtual classrooms
- Fitness classes
- Social gatherings
- Family chats
Other video conferencing platforms like FaceTime, Google Meet and Skype require all participants to have an account with those services in order to join those meetings. Zoom makes it easy to get started and run a meeting, especially since participants don’t need a Zoom account to join.
Which Zoom plan is right for you?
Zoom offers four plans and a variety of add-on services, starting with Zoom’s free Basic plan, which is perfect for small groups or personal use.
Zoom Basic (free)
Best for personal use, client calls, family chats and small group meetings.
- Unlimited one-to-one meetings (no time limit)
- 40-minute time limit for events with three or more participants
- Up to 100 participants
Best for small teams, events and meetings that require more than 40 minutes.
- Up to 100 participants (add up to 900 more with Zoom’s large meeting add-on)
- 24-hour time limit
- Recorded meetings can be saved to the cloud or your computer
Best for small and medium-sized businesses that rely on video conferencing.
- Up to 300 participants (add 700 more with Zoom’s large meeting add-on)
- Company branding
- Recorded transcripts
- Customised URL (YourCompany.zoom.us)
Best for heavy users needing to invite a large number of participants.
- Up to 500 participants (1,000 participants with Enterprise Plus)
- Unlimited cloud storage of recordings
- A dedicated customer service manager
- Discounts on Zoom Rooms and webinars
Enterprise Plus: Add up to 1,000 participants
Zoom Rooms connect on-site conference rooms with remote employees.
Video webinars or live virtual events for up to 100 participating attendees and up to 10,000 view-only attendees.
Get all the details on Zoom plans, pricing and features here.
How to schedule and hold a Zoom meeting
Start by going to Zoom.com, and then follow these steps:
1. Register as a host
The person who starts the meeting and invites guests is considered the host.
The host is the only person who must have a Zoom account.
Creating a Zoom video conferencing account only takes a few minutes and once it’s done, you can start a meeting right away or schedule a future meeting.
You’ll be asked to enter the following information to register as a host:
- Confirm registration
- Enter your name and create a password
- Invite colleagues (or skip this step until later)
Once registered, you’ll be given a URL with a unique number — this is your personal meeting ID. You need only pick a time for a meeting, then share your meeting ID with everyone you want to come to the meeting. They either paste your ID into their browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc) or simply click on the link when you send them an invitation by email.
The last step in the registration process is to start a test meeting so you get an idea of how it works before you actually hold a meeting.
2. Invite people to your meeting or event
Zoom makes it painless for participants to join an event. They don’t need to register or have a Zoom account. All you need to do is invite them and email them your personal meeting ID.
If your participant has used Zoom before, the meeting will automatically open when they click the link.
If attendees haven’t used Zoom before, they’ll be prompted to download and install Zoom. By clicking “download,” an .exe file will automatically install on their computer.
3. Running your Zoom meeting
During your Zoom event, you’ll find icons at the bottom of your screen that you can toggle on and off as the host.
In the bottom left corner is a microphone icon that says “mute.” Clicking this icon allows participants (and the host) to turn off their microphone and eliminate distracting background noise.
A video camera icon next to the microphone allows you to turn your camera on and off. Although Zoom is a video conferencing service, you don’t need a webcam and participants can choose to turn their cameras off during a meeting. They can continue participating in the meeting, but they can also eat lunch without anyone knowing it.
As the host, you have control over important features of the meeting. Under the security icon, you’ll find:
- A Lock Meeting option, which prevents others from joining after you lock the meeting (even if they have the unique Zoom link).
- After your guests click on the meeting link, they will stay in the virtual waiting room until you start the meeting.
Another feature of Zoom is the ability to share your computer screen (that’s the green icon shown above) and allow others to share theirs. As the host, you can select who has permission to share their screen. This is handy for sharing and discussing work in progress, photos — anything on your screen.
During the meeting, participants can have side conversations on a chat board (if you select this option). This feature allows the meeting to run smoothly without interrupting the speaker. Participants can post a message to the entire group or to a selected individual.
As the host, you can control if participants are automatically muted when they join the meeting or if they can mute and unmute themselves. You can invite others to your meeting under this section as well as assign a co-host to help you.
Click record and your meeting will be saved for future playback. You’ll have the flexibility to pause during a live session and resume recording when you’re ready. The file will save as an .mp4 to your desired file location.
Only the host can end the meeting for everyone. Participants can leave at any time, but as the host, if you need to leave before the event is over, you can assign a co-host. Learn how to do this in this video.
If you have the Pro, Business or Enterprise plan, the host will have other features available like adding closed caption and breakout rooms.
Important security controls
To keep your Zoom event private, follow these best practices when setting up and running your meeting. Note that the host can change these in their Zoom profile settings.
Important safety options to consider:
- Click ’lock meeting’ once all your participants have joined
- Select who can share their screen
- Disable ‘join before host’ option
- Consider sending a password in a separate email
- When using shared calendars, make the event private
- If you want to remove a participant, click ‘remove’ under ‘Manage Participants’
Zoom continues to update and improve their privacy features, and as a registered host, you’ll be notified of any future changes. You can also visit Zoom’s Privacy & Security page for updates.
Using Zoom with group calendars
Want to take your Zoom game up a notch? Integrating all your productivity tools can improve your team’s efficiency.
Zoom allows you to schedule a meeting and invite others from your shared calendar or other collaboration program.
For Google Chrome and Firefox browsers
Visit zoom.us/download to download ‘Zoom Client for Meetings’ and ‘Zoom Extension for Browsers.’
You’ll notice a camera icon in your extension toolbar on the top right side of your screen. Tap on the icon, and you’ll be able to sign in with your Google account and designate the meeting as a Zoom event when you schedule a meeting in Google calendar.
Log into your Zoom account with your Outlook calendar open. Click to add a new meeting, and you’ll see the “Add Zoom Meeting” button.
If you subscribe to Zoom’s Pro or Business plan, you can start and join meetings directly from Slack.
For other CRM and collaboration applications like Microsoft Teams, HubSpot, Trello and Asana, you can integrate with Zoom through Zoom Marketplace.
Plugins for IBM Notes and Intel Unite are also available.
Ready to Zoom?
Hosting an online event with Zoom video conferencing has never been easier. In just a few minutes, you’ll be hosting your first Zoom meeting, and your guests will find it stress-free to join.
The free basic plan is the best place to start with the option to upgrade if needed. Remember to check your profile settings and keep the security controls in mind before hosting your first virtual event.