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10 things you need to know about hosting Zoom meetings

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So, you’ve been a participant on Zoom meetings and are familiar with the basics. But now you’re considering playing the role of host. Where do you start? What do you need to consider?

I’ll take you on a short tour of the Zoom settings and some handy tips to get you started. Please note the information and screenshots were compiled using a Mac laptop, therefore you may find some differences in your own setup.

1. Sign up for a Zoom account plan


Visit the Zoom website for details. There are multiple plans available starting with the Basic plan, which is free. A Zoom account will provide you access to the entire list of settings available. An abbreviated list is available from within the Zoom app, which you will need to download if you haven’t already done so.

2. Check security settings

While you’re logged in to your account, click on your profile icon in the top right hand corner and click on your name. Under the heading Personal, select Settings. Under the heading Meeting, select Security.

Zoom website account plan settings

This section allows you to set and choose meeting passwords (known as passcodes) and enable a waiting room for joining participants.

3. Test your video and audio

Head over to your Zoom app and click on the cog wheel icon to display the settings window. From the menu bar, view the Video and Audio options.

Zoom app dashboard

The video preview is great because it allows you to change things in real time such as lighting, background elements, audio proximity and more. Once you have set the position where your computer needs to be on your desk, mark the area with tape so you don’t have to redo the setup.

When thinking about your audio setup, consider noises which might be distracting—mobile phones, a ‘clicky’ keyboard or mouse, rattling windows or the hum of your computer fan or external hard drive.

4. Review the recording features

Zoom has a recording feature built-in and allows you to stop and pause the recording at any time. When you end the meeting, the recording is compiled into separate audio, and combined audio/video files for easy distribution.

Locate the recording features available via the Zoom website Settings. There is an option to include a recording disclaimer, which is ideal for privacy and legal considerations.

5. Run a test meeting

The best way to see how it all fits together is to run a test meeting through the Zoom app. Click on the New Meeting button on the dashboard screen.

Dashboard icons indicating starting a new meeting

Play around with the controls and practice sharing your screen, turning functions on and off. Ask a friend or colleague to join your meeting so you can both identify anything that needs to be changed or resolved.

6. Develop your meeting etiquette

As the host, you are responsible for ensuring your participants know how (and when) to participate. In areas where internet bandwidth is poor, you may decide to restrict your meetings to audio only. In formal meetings, you may opt to use the chat feature for recording voting decisions and comments.

There are other things to consider, such as people joining the meeting by phone. How will you ensure they are included when screen sharing is part of the meeting? And do you have a method where participants can ask questions? You can enable a set of icons called Nonverbal feedback under the heading Meeting on the Zoom website. The icon set includes a hand, which acts as a ‘raised hand’ for requesting the host’s attention.

Nonverbal feedback setting

7. Know the shortcuts

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts to navigate your way around a little quicker than moving the mouse. This also reduces the mouse movement on your screen which can be distracting for a screen share. While we’re on the subject of screen sharing, limit mouse scrolling as participants on a slow internet connection will experience screen blurring and buffering. You can find the keyboard shortcuts under settings in the Zoom app, by clicking on the cog wheel icon.

8. Consider your audience

Think back to your first Zoom meeting—is there information you wish you had been given? It’s always better to assume your participants need to know the basics of connecting to a meeting, to ensure everyone is on the same page. Provide them with as much information as you think they need and well in advance, in case they have to acquire items such as a microphone or webcam.

Consider the likelihood of participants joining the meeting from their mobile phone or tablet—make this a part of your testing if you can, so you can be aware of any limitations. You might need to limit participants to using a computer, depending upon your requirements.

9. Track participant invites

If you are sending your invitation via email, you could create a calendar invite through your email client such as Outlook, Gmail, Zoho etc. That way people can accept or decline the meeting invitation, as well as receive a reminder. You can also schedule a meeting within Zoom by clicking on the Schedule button in the Zoom app. There are also shortcut tools to access Zoom within your internet browser or computer menu bar.

Zoom app Scheduling icon

10. Familiarise yourself with the Zoom knowledge base

The Zoom website is a wealth of information and is designed to cater for a range of learning styles. Attend a webinar, watch a tutorial or read through documentation — the choice is yours. The Zoom resources are located under the heading Resources in the top right hand corner of the website.

Happy hosting!