187. What does a Zoom online meeting look like?

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Note: Zoom is not one of our normal topics, but we do use it a lot and recognize that many more people are needing to use it now in the era of Coronavirus quarantines. That was our motivation for showing this topic, and also for that reason, we are making the show notes free for anyone. Stay healthy my friends.

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0:00 Intro

Chris explains that this episode is a follow-up to Episode 186. In Episode 186 we taught the basics of Zoom meetings. Then, the next week we invited GeeksOnTour.com premium members to join us for a live meeting. This is a recording of that real Zoom meeting, warts and all. We include some of the time before the meeting where participants are gathering and getting comfortable. The screen being recorded is Chris’ screen, as if you were sitting in her place at the computer, so you see when she clicks on the controls.

1:47 Beginning of recorded meeting

Just some chit-chat while people get comfortable in the meeting. You’re looking at what’s called the “Gallery” view which shows everyone in their own cubicle. Notice the yellow outline around whoever is speaking. When participants first gather, they should always test their microphones and be sure they know how to mute and unmute. (more on that later)

4:22 Multiple screens of people

Showing how to view multiple screens of people when there are more participants than fit on one screen. There are blue arrows in the middle right and middle left side to scroll back and forth between multiple screens.

8:15 Start of meeting

9:00 Start Poll

Chris starts by using a feature of Zoom called “Polls.” She created a poll ahead of time and now presents it. Each particpant sees the Poll on their screen and can click on their choices and Submit. Chris’ screen sees the cumulative results of the poll. When she ends the poll, she has the option to show everyone the results.

Getting Help

The Zoom website has in-depth help. Just go to Zoom.us and click Support in the upper right – that will open up the Help Center.

14:18  Mute and Unmute

The first, and most important tool to master is Mute/Unmute. It works with both sound – microphone, and video – camera, but it is most important with sound. Especially in large meetings, people should remain muted unless they are speaking. In smaller meetings when everyone is in a quiet place, you can stay unmuted, making it easier to have a comfortable meeting. Whenever someone makes noise, Zoom assumes you are talking and highlights you as the speaker.

You can also turn off your camera. If you have a Zoom account, and you’ve uploaded a profile image, that image will be displayed when your camera is off. Otherwise, just your name will appear.

Audio and Video settings – You may have more than one microphone attached to your computer, you may also have more than one camera. You need to tell Zoom which one to use, and there are lots of adjustments that can be made as well.

18:10 Changing the name displayed on your cubicle

Move your mouse and you should see a 3-dot menu in the upper right of your cubicle, click that and then Rename. Enter whatever you want and  OK


There’s a chat button at the bottom that you can click to open up a right sidebar. You can send a message to everyone, or you can click on the down arrow and choose one person to send a private message. If you have a lot of participants, you should assign a person to pay attention to this chat. This way people’s messages won’t get ignored.


Participants is another button at the bottom that opens up a right sidebar panel. In that panel you can see all the people, you should also see buttons for “non-verbal feedback.” If the speaker asks a question like, “Do you have a Zoom account?” Everyone can answer Yes, or No by clicking that feedback button and a Yes or No icon will appear next to their name.

29:00 Gallery vs Speaker View

Each participant has control over whether they are seeing the entire group in “Gallery” view or just the person who is speaking, known as “Speaker” view. When in Speaker view the person speaking (making noise) will be taking up the main stage. That person will switch when someone else starts talking. The rest of the people will have “thumbnails” above the speaker. You can scroll thru those thumbnails by clicking the blue arrow at the right side, then scroll back with the blue arrow at the left side.

Chris calls the Gallery view, “Hollywood Squares” some others call it the Brady Bunch.

32:25 Browser version of Zoom is missing some basic controls like Gallery View.

38:39 Virtual Background

This feature of Zoom allows you to designate a virtual background even if you don’t have a green screen. If you want it to be even better, then you need to buy a green screen – it’s green fabric that you put behind you and the computer system is programmed to replace the green color with whatever graphic you choose.

You can have any graphic you want. Chris says that she has searched the web for backgrounds and found images she really likes. Make sure they are copyright free, download them to your computer, then you can use the + to add them to your choices for Virtual Backgrounds.

46:36 Share Screen

People often have a Powerpoint slide deck they want to present while they speak, or some computer screens that they need to demonstrate some procedures, or just a photo slide show etc. That’s what screen share is for. It is quite easy, the hard part is just knowing whether or not your audience is seeing it. Since you’re already seeing your screen, it’s hard to tell when you’ve been successful at sharing. It’s common to ask your audience, “Are you seeing my slide that says ….” Everybody needs a little reassurance!

Which screen to share? When you share a desktop screen, anything you put on that screen will be shared. When you share one single app or browser tab – that is the only thing that will be shared.

If you’re sharing a video, make sure that the option (in bottom left) for Share computer sound is checked.

54:22 How to learn more

Zoom.us – you don’t need to log in, you don’t even need an account. Click on Support in the upper right and you’re at their Help Center. Here is the Zoom.us video that we showed. Sharing your screen

Video on How to use the Polls feature


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