woman using laptop on a comfy rug with notes scattered around

If you’ve worked remotely at any point in the past few months, then you have undoubtedly experienced a Zoom mishap or two. Did a coworker forget to mute herself and say something snarky? Did your boss neglect to turn off his video before heading into the bathroom? Zoom, for all of its (usual) convenience, certainly requires some adjusting. 

Nevertheless, Zoom has been an essential tool for remote workers. It offers a robust range of features — but you may not be using those features to your advantage. You know where the mute and hide video buttons are, but here’s how to use Zoom like an expert: 

Display Feed From a Second Camera 

It’s possible to connect an additional camera feed to your Zoom meeting. All you need to do is share your screen and click the “Advanced” button at the top. Select the option that says “Connect from second camera” to begin streaming two feeds at once. You can use your mobile device or an external webcam. This feature is convenient if you have something physical you want to share, such as written documents, but can’t awkwardly fit them into the same frame with you. 

Record your Meetings for Later 

If not everyone can make it to your scheduled class or meeting, you can record what happens and send it to everyone later. Even if everyone is able to attend, it never hurts to have the footage and audio to review or for future reference.

Simply click the “record” button at the bottom of your screen. Anyone can do this, not just the meeting host. If you are the account owner, though, you can enable meetings to automatically record as soon as they begin and instantly download the file once they’re finished. 

Or, Record Their Transcripts 

You can also record meeting transcripts. This feature automatically turns your meeting’s dialogue into text and stores it in the cloud. Go to your account’s settings, enable “Cloud recording,” and select the “Audio transcript” button under the “Advanced cloud recording settings.” Having a text version of your meeting is convenient if you need to review any material later because you can use keywords to search for specific topics. As the account owner (you need to be to enable this feature), you may edit your transcriptions and use them to navigate the video recording. 

Take Advantage of Keyboard Shortcuts

Here’s an advantage Zoom boasts over in-person meetings: keyboard shortcuts. Instead of navigating the platform’s various features manually, you can use quick keyboard combinations to achieve the same results. For instance, Command + Shift + A on a Mac mutes and unmutes audio (Alt + A for Windows). Replace the A with a W to exit and enter gallery view (F2 on Windows), or use the V key to turn your video on and off (that one’s easy enough to remember, right?). 

Change Your Background 

Experimenting with Zoom backgrounds is a fun feature you’ve certainly seen your colleagues and friends use before. If you want to know how to change the background on Zoom for yourself:

  1. Select “Settings” after clicking on your profile picture.
  2. Choose “Virtual Background” once the menu bar appears. You can pick from Zoom’s included images or upload your own photos.
  3. Have fun pretending you’re in space or on the beach (or, more realistically, hiding what your living space looks like)!

Control Your Meeting Environment 

Perhaps you have a notoriously loud coworker who consistently finds ways to make noise and never seems to mute himself. He’s always crunching chips into his microphone or shouting at someone in the background, forgetting everyone can hear him. You can ask him to mute his audio politely, but that would call attention to him and make him feel embarrassed. The diplomatic thing to do is mute him yourself. As the meeting host, click the “Participants” option at the bottom of the screen, find your coworker when the list appears, hover over his name, and select “Mute.” Now, everyone is free of distractions. 

On a related note, controlling your meeting environment entails orderliness. To prevent people from speaking over each other, you’ll need to know how to raise your hand in Zoom. It’s easy: click “Participants” at the bottom of your screen and select “Raise hand” once the window appears. Ask everyone else to do this when they want a turn to share. 

Divide People into Breakout Rooms 

Meetings come with all sorts of topics and formats, so you might need a way to divide everyone into smaller groups (such as in an academic setting). What you can do is split attendees into breakout rooms. If you enable breakout rooms beforehand, you can pre-assign attendees into groups, randomize them, or allow participants to decide which rooms they enter. Click the breakout rooms button at the bottom of your screen (next to Closed Caption) when the time comes. 

Integrate Third-Party Apps

Zoom can do a lot on its own, but there’s a world of possibilities if you connect it with external applications. Make scheduling meetings easy by integrating Zoom with Zapier. Do you need to improve the way your team collaborates? Use G Suite or Slack. If you want to attend a conference on a big screen that doesn’t have a webcam, you can use your laptop or phone and project it on a TV with Enplug’s Zoom app
Whether you have no choice but to use Zoom or enjoy the way it enables remote work, it’s a communications platform that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Embrace it, learn how to use Zoom to its maximum potential, and then use it to make your meetings even better than they could be in person.