I came to the Zoom party really late and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get there!
What did I find? Actually it was OK, actually I quite enjoyed them, actually it was really good to have some events in my diary! Over the last 6 months have I attended Zoom meetings for work, education and leisure and they can work really well .... or sadly not so well. There are myriad articles on the net about Zoom but I thought I would share my experiences here aswell.
This is really important - you will get out of the meeting what you put in. I have been party to many Teams lessons whilst my girls have been at home and some had me really feeling for the teacher - no cameras on and very little participation from the students - it's a wonder the teacher turned up for the lesson at all!
Turn up for the meeting with time to spare
Please check that your Zoom connection is working prior to the meeting. Ideally head to the meeting 15 minutes in advance and check your connection. Sometimes the host is there ready and waiting to welcome you, sometimes you will be put into a waiting room until the host admits you to the meeting and sometimes you have beaten the host to the meeting and the dialogue box will ask you to wait for the host.
I speak from experience here - when I first started zoom I thought I could just go 2 minutes before the meeting start time and be ready. I couldn't! Finding the actual Zoom link proved tricky on several occasions so I now star all my Zoom invites in my inbox so that I can easily filter them. Oftentimes my laptop was not charged or I couldn't find it (note children have been at home for a long time!).
Which device should you use?
Use a desktop or laptop if possible - they have better functionality with Zoom and give a better viewing performance. If you are using a laptop, tablet or mobile device ensure that you have a power lead handy because your battery can drain quite fast and, if it is plugged into the device and the wall, make sure the socket is actually turned on (how do I know that?!!).
Whichever device you do decide to use try to ensure that you have a stable internet connection. I know that sometimes you have no control of this but it is awful to miss your meeting because you keep dropping out of it.
There are lots of things you can do, and set as default, in your settings section. If you want to join a meeting on mute and with no video as default, be sure to set them up in your settings so you are not rushing for the buttons as soon as you enter the meeting.
Keyboard Short cuts
If you are using a desktop or laptop there are lots of keyboard shortcuts available to you. Here's a couple of useful keyboard short cuts:
Alt+A will mute/unmute your audio
Alt+V will start/top your video
For a full list head over here
Camera On or Off
This is probably one of the most contentious questions on any form of remote meeting. Sometimes the decision is taken out of your hands when the host or tutor specifically requests one or the other. This was probably my biggest hurdle to using Zoom and so imagine my horror when, at my first meeting, the presenter said that he wanted everyone's cameras on for the whole of the meeting - aaaarrrghhh! But then he explained about engaging and participating in the meeting and it made sense. It is also nicer for the host/tutor to see that people are actually listening and haven't walked off! I now take the view that if it is a social or interactive Zoom meeting then the camera is on, if it's a workshop style meeting sometimes my camera will be on and sometimes it will be off - no-one really needs to see me moving from my machine to iron and back again!
You're on Mute
Again sometimes the host will have muted everyone prior to them arriving in the meeting and sometimes they won't. The smaller, more social meetings can work well with microphones on but then you need to be aware of background noise and be ready to mute if necessary. If there are a large number of people it is better to have all microphones muted and then individuals can unmute themselves when it's time to talk. You can do this by clicking on the mic image, but a quick way of doing it, if you have a keyboard, is to press the space bar whilst you are talking.
As in a real meeting, try not to talk over each other. This can be hard to gauge on Zoom because the verbal cues are harder to read and sometimes the connections lag.