How to use Zoom — 10 Tips On How To Make Your Zoom Meetings More Productive And Fun

As COVID-19 has pushed many companies around the world to adopt the working-from-home policy, what were previously in-person meetings have turned into virtual video group-chats. As a result, Zoom has all of a sudden become a tool that most people can’t live without.

For me as an example, I have at least 5 Zoom meetings or coffee chats on a daily basis with my colleagues, who could be sitting in San Francisco, Amsterdam, New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, or any corner in the world.

While Zoom serves the purpose of virtually meeting each other, most users only use it in a bare minimum way and didn’t realize there could be many tips to make your meeting much more interactive, productive, and simply fun! Let me list just a few easy tricks below to help you light up your routine meetings with some sparkles of fun :)

  1. Rename and Change Profile Picture

When you are not doing a video chat, the default view is either just your name’s initial with a plain color background or your full name on a dark screen. Well, that’s boring and tasteless!

Instead, you can hover over your icon in the chat room and click on the 3 dots on the top-right corner to rename yourself into something creative and change your profile picture to add some flavor to it.

2. Virtual Background

Video chats are almost always more fun than just voice chats. But you may be worried about showing too much of your personal space. Maybe your room is messy or your kids are playing in the background which could be distracting. Time to add a virtual camera background!

Where to add it? First, click on the “zoom.us” button on your screen’s top-left and then click on “Preferences”.

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Then, click on the “Virtual Background” tab on the left and choose from any of the default backgrounds, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the GIFs with a beach view or the aurora lights. Or if you want to show your personality or even branding, you can choose from your own pictures.

On my work Zoom account, I’m always using a picture of the famous Lujiazui view of Shanghai, my favorite city. But on my personal Zoom account, I’m switching between the stunning skyline of Shanghai from the website of Meho, the legendary picture of my hero Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick in the 2011 Man Utd vs Man City, and the epic Quidditch view from my wife’s favorite Harry Potter ;)

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3. Reactions

A cool way to make your meeting more interactive, without constantly interrupting each other with the video lag, is to use Reactions to give the presenter a clapping hand or a thumb up. It’s located on the bottom of the control panel to the far right.

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4. Raise Hand

Another way to “show” your hand is to use the Raise Hand button. This is commonly used when the host conducts a quick poll or for you to show a signal to the host that you’d like to ask a question.

To raise hand, click on the “Participants” button on the bottom of the control panel, and then the Raise Hand button will show up after the participant list.

Correspondingly, you can Lower Hand after your cue has been taken.

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5. Mute/Unmute Everyone

This function is also accessible after the Participants list. It comes really handy if someone forgot to mute their own microphone and a baby suddenly starts crying in the background or a train angrily passes by.

6. Annotate on Share Screen

The screen-sharing experience can also be interactive with the Annotate function. The button is on the right of the Share Screen control panel on the top of your screen. Every participant can annotate, and you can save the final screen as a picture.

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7. Whiteboard

An even more fun way to share the screen is to share a Whiteboard, which everyone can contribute and write/draw on. This is a really cool way to do a brainstorming session.

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There are many tools you can use, including text, drawing, spotlight, stamp, etc. Similar to Annotate, you can also save the final screen as a picture.

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8. App Marketplace

Zoom can be integrated into other applications such as GitHub, Asana, Trello, Evernote, Docusign, Monday.com, SurveyMonkey, Google Calendar, and so on. This is really helpful in making Zoom a part of the whole productivity suite of software your company uses. You can see the full list from Zoom’s app marketplace.

9. Poll

The last 2 functions are only limited to Zoom’s enterprise accounts. Polling really empowers the host with a nice way to make the meeting more productive and interactive. The button is next to Share Screen on the control panel. The participants will be prompted with a poll with options, and the results will be shown to everyone after the poll is done.

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10. Breakout Room

In addition to the main room where all participants are in, the host can set aside Breakout Rooms to divide the audience into small sessions and do a quick huddle. You can choose to randomly assign rooms or manually choose which participants to be grouped together. You can also broadcast to all Breakout rooms with general announcements or questions. When you close up the Breakout Rooms, the small groups will be given a 60-second time window to wrap up their discussions, instead of ending them abruptly. This is a really cool functionality and is widely used among university classrooms or larger meetings and conferences.

I hope this is a helpful post and you can get started with it right away! Feel free to post and comment on how it has helped your Zoom experience. Looking forward to hearing your stories!

Global Fintech Founder & Investor | ex-Adyen, ex-Franklin Templeton

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