Start Zoom video conferencing in 3 steps

9 min read
Anastasia Dvorak

Social distancing and the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created an enormous demand for reliable, easy-to-use video conferencing software. The sudden proliferation of remote work in our society has had a huge impact on Zoom, a global favorite of all video conferencing solutions

Almost everyone who can work remotely is working from home.

It’s undeniable that video conferencing is a core survival tactic for any business that needs to manage its employees remotely. But it’s also fulfilling the need for social communications between friends and family as they shelter at home to reduce the spread of the virus.

Everything’s coming up Zoom

According to Bernstein Research, “daily downloads of the Zoom app have increased 30x year-over-year and the app has been the top free app for iPhones in the United States since March 18.”

Zoom reports that there was an increase in daily users from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020.

Related: Small business survival guide for weathering the pandemic

Take the plunge in 3 steps

Okay so you’ve decided you want to join the Zoom nation. Here are the basic steps, with additional details depending on what you’re using Zoom for:

  1. Pick a plan.
  2. Set up Zoom video conferencing.
  3. Schedule and hold your first meeting.

After you’ve worked through the process, stick around for tips on how to feel more confident in your first Zoom meeting.

1. Pick a plan

Zoom currently offers four different plans, starting with a free basic plan.

Zoom Basic

This is a perfect option if you want to have a meeting with your friends and family or if you are thinking of testing Zoom to see if it would work for you.

The basic version is free for meetings of up to 100 and no longer than 40 minutes.

The best part about it is that you can have an unlimited number of meetings, so this free plan is perfect for catching up with your social circle.

Zoom Pro

If you are looking for a more advanced solution for a small team, Zoom Pro could work for you. In addition to the longer meeting duration of 24 hours, you also get:

  • A custom personal meeting ID
  • Space for up to 100 attendees
  • The ability to enable and disable recording, as well as encryption, chat and notifications
  • Reporting (total number of meetings in your org, number attending, meeting length, etc)
  • Additional MP4 or M4A cloud recording space

This plan also allows you to manage meeting attendees and have someone else set up meetings for you.

Zoom Business

Zoom Business works for small to medium-sized companies that need to hold regularly scheduled meetings. In addition to the features that come with the Pro plan, you get:

  • Space for up to 300 attendees
  • An admin dashboard
  • Custom branding
  • Vanity URLs to share with clients
  • Dedicated phone support

Best of all, this plan includes recorded transcripts of your meetings.

Zoom Enterprise

The Enterprise plan works for the largest businesses. In addition to all of the above-mentioned features, it provides:

  • Space for up to 500 attendees
  • Advanced tracking (e.g. ROI, product roadmap, etc)
  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • A dedicated customer success manager
  • Discounts on webinars and Zoom rooms

Need more? The Enterprise Plus plan allows you to hold meetings or events with up to 1,000 participants.

2. Set up Zoom video conferencing

Once you sign up for a plan, you need to download Zoom onto your computer or mobile device. To do that, you need to schedule a new meeting first, and then start that meeting. Once that’s done, a Zoom launcher will install Zoom onto your computer (you can also download it manually here).

A “Zoom meeting” is a meeting that’s hosted on the Zoom platform, and you can invite participants to join your meeting in several ways:

  • In person
  • Via webcam or their mobile phone camera
  • By phone

One important thing to note is that you need to have a working microphone or a webcam that has a microphone integrated in it. Most laptops have both of these functions.

How to connect Zoom to your team’s calendar

It’s worth syncing Zoom to your calendar so that your team members always know when your next meeting is coming up.

Zoom Video Conferencing Sync with Team Calendar

If your team doesn’t already share a calendar, it’s a good idea to start one.

If you want to share a meeting in your calendar, go to the "Upcoming Meetings" tab, and at the end of the page you will see a note that says "Save time by scheduling your meetings directly from your calendar." You can download a Microsoft Outlook plugin or a Chrome extension.

3. Schedule and hold your first meeting

There are various ways you can schedule a meeting.

If you are on your desktop, log in to Zoom and click on the “Schedule a meeting” button. You will see boxes where you can edit the details of your meeting, such as:

  • Meeting ID, which is how attendees will enter
  • Meeting description, duration and time zone
  • The option to make this a recurring meeting
  • A meeting password for your security
Zoom Video Conferencing Schedule Meeting

You can also schedule a meeting via your email client if you’ve installed the above-mentioned plugins. In addition to that, you can schedule a meeting via your Zoom app.

Once you schedule your meeting, you can share the Zoom meeting link with everyone you’d like to come to the meeting. If you want to host a meeting right away, just click on the “Host a Meeting” button. Once Zoom launches, you can invite your team members to join.

How to have the most effective meetings

Zoom has many functions that can help you have productive meetings. Not only can you record your meeting to share with team members who are unable to attend, but you can also:

  • Share your screen
  • Turn the video on and off
  • Collaborate and write on a whiteboard
  • Have chat discussions (private or public) during the meeting

It’s also important to make sure that your meeting is private and secure, so set a password and share it with team members to access the meeting.

The password prevents any party crashers from gaining entry to your meeting.

When you are scheduling a new meeting, type in a strong password next to the “Require meeting password” checkbox.

In order to limit any disruptions, you can “lock” the Zoom room you are in to keep others from entering, even if they have the right password and meeting ID.

You can also mute the microphone of all participants who join your meeting — a handy feature for very large meetings. They can unmute it when they are ready to join the discussion.

How to record your meeting

Sometimes you’ll want to record your meeting for future reference and to share with any team members who are unable to attend.

The meetings can be recorded on your mobile device/computer or saved to the Zoom cloud (depending on the plan that you have).

Zoom Video Conferencing Record Screen

In your Zoom meeting you will see a menu button that says “Record.” Choose the “Record on this Computer” or “Record to the Cloud” option to begin recording. To stop the recording, click on the “Pause/Stop Recording” button or just end the meeting.

How to feel more confident during your Zoom meeting

Many find that first Zoom meeting a little nerve-wracking. Am I muted? How do I share my screen? Eek! Here are some tips that will help you prepare:

Test everything beforehand

Before your meeting starts, make sure to test your video and your microphone by joining a test Zoom meeting here. This will enable you to check your video and your microphone volume.

Pay attention to what’s behind you

Proper lighting and the camera angle are important, so if you want to look your best, make sure that your room has some natural light, or add a light fixture to your desk to improve your lighting.

Just start the meeting early to set the stage.

Check the camera angle and ensure that your room has nothing distracting in the background. Clean up your desk and check what’s behind you. One dirty sock or an embarrassing item in the background can tarnish your reputation.

Focus on others

If you are self-conscious about your appearance or didn’t have the time to get ready for your meeting, you can click the “Touch up my appearance” check mark in your Zoom video settings.

If you are prone to staring at yourself during your Zoom meeting (and let’s be honest, we all do it!), you can right-click your video frame and select the “hide myself” option. This hides your video from your own screen only — the other participants can still see you on their screen.

Instead of staring at your own face or the speaker’s face, build a connection with your audience, and look at the camera lens and not the speaker.

Minimize distractions

Zoom Video Conferencing Woman in Yoga Class

Close the door, ask your family members to be quiet (if possible!) and make sure you are well-dressed (from the waist up at least).

If you have small children, a loud pet or if you are working in a busy location, you need to install a very useful plugin/app called Krisp.

This is a free video conferencing plugin for your desktop and an iPhone/Android app that will mute your background noise for free (120 min/week free for desktop and 240 min/week free for your mobile device).

Join the revolution

Zoom has become not only a major part of our working lives, but an essential tool that makes us feel connected to others during this challenging time in our history.

This businesses app has become the go-to choice for everyone who wants to connect with anyone, really.

If you have never tried Zoom before, now is the perfect time to try it! Armed with these tips you are sure to enjoy your first Zoom meeting … and the many to follow.