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How to Have a Zoom Meeting That Is (Almost) as Good as Being There

Ian Gwin's picture

Zoom logoThese tips were originally developed by the UCSF Program Management Office (PMO), and have been expanded by IT.

Tips for Meeting Hosts

  • Set expectations ahead of time
    Remote meeting engagement is often better if everyone joins via video rather than voice alone. Let participants know ahead of time if your expectation is for participants to be joining by video, or if audio-only is fine.
  • Get participants engaged during the meeting
    Greet people as they join the meeting, just as you would when people enter a room in person. Be mindful of who has spoken and who hasn’t, and call on people to ensure everyone is participating equally.

Tips for Meeting Hosts and Attendees

  • Turn on your camera
    It’s easy to get distracted by other things when we’re on a conference call. Turning on your camera can help encourage others to do the same, and helps up meeting engagement as a result.
  • Wear headphones
    Wearing headphones improves your own experience of hearing others in the meeting, and it also improves the experience for everyone else, as it prevents feedback and echoing that can occur when participants must continually mute and unmute their microphones.
  • Enter your participant ID
    Entering your unique participant ID when you join a meeting ensures Zoom recognizes you and displays your name for others in the meeting to see.
  • Be mindful of ambient noise
    Keep your microphone on mute if you are not talking, and if you are in a meeting with a Polycom, be aware that noises that seem fairly quiet to you (like crumpling up a sandwich wrapper) will sound much louder to those joining the meeting remotely.

Tips for Stepping It Up a Notch

  • Use Zoom tools for more robust and engaged participation
    Whiteboards can be used for brainstorming and grouping ideas, and—if you’re creative—even dot-voting using the “stamp” tool. If you haven’t used Zoom’s whiteboard feature before, check out their handy Zoom whiteboard guide. Zoom also has a helpful tutorial on the whiteboard annotation tools.
  • Orient people to the tools you’ll be using
    Spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting orienting everyone to any tools you’ll want them to use. Let people practice sharing screens or writing on whiteboards.
  • Harness the power of group work
    For meetings with more than five participants, group work can be both more engaging and more effective, as it allows groups to tackle different challenges and then come back together as a whole to share what they’ve accomplished.
  • Organize breakout groups ahead of time
    ​Zoom allows you to pre-sort participants into breakout rooms. Visit Zoom’s Pre-assigning participants to breakout rooms guide for a helpful how-to. Some pro tips:
    1. Choose the “import rooms and participants from CSV file” option for a better experience;
    2. Read through the Zoom guide to anticipate things you may need to troubleshoot during the meeting.
    3. Watch this brief but helpful video from Zoom about running good breakout rooms.
  • Check and adjust
    Just like anything else we try out, it’s good practice to reflect on what went well and what could have been better. Set aside the last five minutes of the meeting to check in with participants about their experience in the meeting. You and your team will get better and better at remote meetings with practice and an open mind.