A complete lockdown in India was announced by our Hon. PM, Narendra Modi, since 24th March 2020. Since then, bustling megapolises now look like deserted ghost towns, the roads have been eerily quiet & a significant number of the 130 crore Indians are holed up in their homes.
However, if there is one area where traffic & activity has increased, its the online world. Thankfully, most of India is practicing social distancing and staying indoors. But, it is next to impossible for large Indian families to not see & not talk to each other.
Additionally, several businesses of all sizes have managed to shift to a Work-from-Home model. There is a need to stay connected, share presentations, hold virtual meetings, and even webinars.
Amongst all clutter, there is one app that has stood out, and probably is a household name in India today, and that is Zoom. Whatsapp probably continues to be the most popular video-calling app, but with a limit of 4 people in a video call, it falls woefully short of typical Indian family sizes & lacks certain business features like screen sharing, using on Laptop/Tablet/TV, etc.
Fact: Zoom added more users in Feb & March 2020, than it did in the whole year of 2019.
I would attribute the success of Zoom in 2 key areas, the ultra-simple easy to use interface and the supremely capable streaming servers that ensure near-zero lag.
Let’s dive in to learn more about how we can use Zoom to simplify our business routines, as well as to connect with friends & family. I shall guide you through each step starting with the setup & installation, and also shared a list of recommended best practices before & during a Zoom meeting.
Sign Up, Install & setup of Zoom is as simple as it gets.
You can sign up for an account on their website here or download their app that is available for both the iOS App Store as well as Android Play Store.
The sign-up page gives you a host of options to sign up seamlessly; you can type in your email id, or create an account with your Gmail account or Facebook account. Though the sign-up box asks for a work email address, even a personal email id should be fine. There is also an SSO option (Single Sign-On) for enterprise users. If your firm has a dedicated Zoom network setup, enter the URL id (companyname.zoom.us) and log in.
You don’t need a Zoom account to join meetings created by others. However, a Zoom account is needed if you wish to host a meeting.
If you have signed up through the email id option, there is an email verification process that is needed. Once your account is activated, you then have an option to invite colleagues through email and set up a test meeting. If you are not ready yet, the invite option can be skipped and you can just set up a test meeting with your meeting id. The setup process shifts to the Desktop or Mobile App which you would now be asked to download.
If you have signed up through your GMail or Facebook account, the website prompts you to download the Zoom Desktop/Mobile app & set up a test meeting. You would have to sign in again on the app.
Setup or Join a Meeting
Setting up a meeting in Zoom is a very straightforward process. The big orange button that you notice, is to start a meeting instantly. The preferred method is that you Schedule a meeting by tapping/clicking on the Schedule button.
Starting a meeting instantly generates a Personal Meeting ID. To invite others to the meeting, simply tap on SEND INVITATION button. You can also copy and share the meeting invitation details.
Joining a meeting, too, is an extremely simple process. In most cases, you would click on a meeting link & join the meeting. However, clicking on the link does add an additional step in joining the meeting, especially on the desktop. It first opens the browser & then the Zoom app is launched if it is installed on the desktop. If the Zoom app is not installed, a download & install prompt is shown. It’s much simpler on the phone. Owing to the deep linking capabilities on most modern smartphones, the Zoom app is launched on the phone and the meeting can be joined instantly.
You can join a Zoom meeting from any browser on a desktop. The link for this option is so discreet, almost as if Zoom does not want you to use the browser option.
Recommended Best Practices
Before joining a business meeting
- Check your Audio & Video thoroughly before joining in
- Ensure that you are sitting at a slight distance from the laptop or phone camera.
- When joining the meeting from the phone, avoid holding the phone in your hand throughout the meeting.
- If you are not using a headset, you would have to sit a bit closer as generally, the mic placement on the laptops is close to the in-built camera & on most phones is at the bottom.
- If you are using a headset during the meeting, adjust the length in a way that the mic is closest to your mouth. If it’s left dangling around your neck area, your voice is likely to be muffled or unclear to the other participants. Needless to say, but the headset mic should not be covered under the shirt/blazer collar or the dupatta.
- If you plan to use a wireless headset, please check the charge levels before you join the meeting, and ALWAYS keep a wired headset handy as a backup.
- When joining the meeting from your laptop, make sure you select the right audio input for the meeting; i.e. if you are using a headset or the built-in laptop mic, make sure that is the one selected in the Audio “External Input” options.
- It is also recommended to keep both Input & Output audio devices the same. Do not keep the Input device as the headset mic and the output device as the laptop speaker. If the mic & speakers are close, it would again result in an echo & noise interference.
- DO NOT JOIN THE MEETING ON 2 DEVICES. This is the main reason for the voice echo or mic boom during meetings. The mics of either device are placed close to each other and also pick up the sounds coming from the speaker.
- Make sure you are sitting in a quiet area with minimal ambient noise. Most modern mics are accurate enough to pick up the tiniest of sounds.
- Reduce your fan speed slightly or sit in an air-conditioned room for the meeting. The fan air noise can be an irritant throughout the meeting, especially for the other participants.
- When joining a meeting from home, avoid showing your family members & their daily routines in the background. Any background movement can be a distraction for the speaker. You would also have to ask someone to take care of your kid or give them some activity to do while you are in the meeting.
- If you would like to set a Virtual Meeting background, it is wise to do it before the meeting starts. Do note, virtual backgrounds are NOT supported on all devices.
During the Meeting
- If you would like to speak to your child or any other member during a meeting, MAKE SURE YOU MUTE YOURSELF FIRST and then talk to them.
- If you would like to move away from your screen, then it is best to also MUTE YOUR VIDEO & resume it when you are back. It is a better option than the meeting participants looking at a blank window.
- When you mute your video, the other participants either see your name or your profile picture. Please ensure your full name is typed correctly, and if possible with your designation. If you have kept the setting to show your profile picture, then please keep a formal headshot picture & not something that shows you having fun with family or friends.
- If the speaker has muted you during the meeting, but you would like to make a point, you can do so by tapping/clicking on the raise hand button.
- Use the Meeting Chat wisely. Avoid sending messages when a presentation is on. However, it is a good way to communicate when the host has muted all participants and you want to share your point with a fellow participant.
If you are the Meeting Host
When you schedule a meeting, make sure you ENABLE the Waiting Room option and keep a meeting password. It is also a good practice to LOCK the meeting once all known & expected participants have joined in.
Zoom remains the best video meeting & webinar platforms available. It is quite an exhaustive platform & I have tried to cover most of the areas that shall help you get comfortable & running with the app in no time. You can try out Zoom right here.
Do comment below and let me know if you liked this article. If there are any specific topics you would like me to cover with respect to Zoom or any other app, do reach out to us at [email protected] or head over to the contact page to send me a message.