With the recent explosion in companies using zoom.us for remote communication, it seemed a good time to share a few tips as someone who's used zoom (along with various other video/audio chat platforms while working 100% remotely for almost 18 months.

Caveats

Zoom has had some questionable security issues raised recently (I won't reiterate them here, just put ‘zoom security’ into your favourite search engine). We still use it at my workplace but you'd do well to do some due diligence in determining if it's the right tool for you. Personally, I like Google Meet as it all runs in-browser so there's nothing to install. The catch is you need a paid G-Suite account to host meetings, but if your company already has G-Suite accounts it's worth considering.

Use a Password For All Rooms

  Meetings > Personal Meeting ID > Edit > Require Password

Zoom room links are identified by a large, unique number. The trouble is, anyone in the world could “guess” that number and potentially join your meeting. I don't know how common this is “in the wild”, but with the rapid increase in Zoom usage recently it's surely going to increase.

Using a password on your rooms will help prevent this, and the password is included when you copy a meeting room link so your colleagues clicking on a URL never have to worry about it.

Turn Off Mic And Camera By Default

  User settings > Video > 'Turn off my video when joining a meeting'
  User settings > Audio > 'Mute microphone when joining a meeting'

It's not uncommon for me to join a meeting before I'm truly “ready” to be in the meeting. Perhaps I'm shuffling my lunch plate off the desk, or opening my room window, or adjusting my standing desk. The easiest, and dare I say “professional” thing to do here is to set Zoom to automatically mute you with the camera off when you join a meeting. You are then free to un-mute/enable-video yourself when you're ready.

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Spacebar to Chat

We often use zoom for our daily standup meeting(s). Generally, this means each person will have a short amount to say and will mostly be listening to others say their short updates. Rather than using the tedious mute-then-unmute-then-mute yourself process, you can just hold down the spacebar. While it's held down you'll be un-muted, once you release you'll be muted again (think of it like “walkie-talkie mode”).

Change to Gallery View

By default zoom shows a single picture of whoever it thinks is speaking, this is ok for a small number of people but in a large meeting you probably want “Gallery View”. There's a button on the top-right of the meeting window to toggle through the various modes.

Limit Zoom Chat

Zoom chat is lost once the meeting ends. This is fine for quick notes or questions, but if you want any back-and-forth discussion or information you can reference later you should put this in your normal chat software. It's very common for us to be talking in Zoom and then drop a link or a longer-form discussion in our regular chat at the same time.

Zoom On Mobile

Zoom has mobile clients as well. Although everyone's mobility is limited these days, it can still be useful if you need to be in a meeting while also moving around the house (to mind a curious toddler, for example). Obviously, this only applies to some meetings, but when you need it, it's a lifesaver.