Welcome to the world of online streaming and Zoom virtual meetings! On this page I review how to prepare for your first Zoom meeting and what to expect when you join a meeting. My goal is to make your Zoom experience as pleasant, un-confusing and trouble-free as possible. If you wish not to use your web cam then just ignore all the preparation advice connected with video, lighting and backgrounds.
Decide on what microphone you’ll use: the built-in computer mic, a headset mic or a higher quality USB mic (like any of the Blue Snowball range https://www.bluedesigns.com/products/snowball/). Your built-in computer mic is perfectly fine for any session, so don’t feel you have to go out and invest in anything else.
Decide on what audio speaker you’ll use to hear the conversation: built-in computer speakers, headset or ear buds. The built-in computer speakers are fine, though sometimes there may be an echo when you’re speaking.
If you’re okay showing your video / webcam, then decide on which video camera to use to show your face in the meeting: either the built in computer camera (called “Facetime HD Camera” on some Macs) or a stand-alone USB webcam such as the ones mentioned in this article https://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/peripherals/what-webcam-5-reviewed-and-rated-1027972). It’s up to you whether you show your video or not in any meeting.
If you want to use your video, then I recommend you do a quick test of your video so you can see what people will see when you join. You can do this easily, for instance, using QuickTime / New Recording. In addition you will often see a video preview when you join a Zoom meeting. Try to have some light on your face and avoid strong backlighting (like a window) which makes you look like a silhouette. Sitting further back from your computer or device, if you’re using your computer or device’s built-in camera, can also help and make it look like you’re looking at other attendees rather than the downward look as you look at your screen when close to the camera.
If you’re going to include your video, then consider taking a few moments to de-cluttered your background (or cover it up using the Zoom virtual background feature – there are actually stock backgrounds showing different interiors and environments).
Though you will be in full control of your computer or device and there will be no screen share without your permission, as a general rule it is best to close any personal, confidential or private information such as emails, bank websites, etc, and make sure your desktop (virtual and real) is clean when participating in any online meeting.
It’s a good rule of thumb to assume any meeting is potentially being recorded and therefore never say anything you wouldn’t want to share with a larger audience. Do not share confidential information or denigrate others. In Zoom you’ll always see a small red Recording sign in the upper left when the meeting is being recorded within Zoom. However a meeting might also be recorded by a participant using a screen recording program in which case you would not see a visual clue.
Treat a virtual meeting as you would any in-person meeting. Be nice to others, polite, professional, respectful, patient and kind.
If you’re sharing your video, then consider what you’re wearing. Generally block colors and avoidance of high contrast clothing is easier on the eye of the viewer. Consider how your clothing will look against your background. Avoid green in your clothing if you plan to use a virtual background (a neat feature in Zoom).