First time on Zoom? What you need to know to help you avoid being THAT person

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rep roberts zoom 550pxWhether you’re launching Zoom to take a class or participate in a staff meeting, there are some non-obvious ways to get the most out of your video meeting experience. Here are some pointers from the company. 


1) Check the background

Your study space or home office may be in your bedroom, but no one needs to see that pile of laundry. Zoom has a Virtual Background feature that can cover up distracting scenes behind you. 

2) Lighting matters

Hollywood production values aren’t important, but if you sit in front of or beside a bright light source your face will be in shadow. If possible, adjust your position or surrounding lights so that attendees can see your face.

3) Cut the distractions

Silence audio notifications on your computer and phone, if at all possible, to avoid distracting yourself — and others while you are speaking.

4) Keep movement to a minimum

Avoid swiveling in your chair or other distracting movement, which can be disorienting to other participants.

Learn more about Zoom from UAB IT here, along with alternatives such as Microsoft Teams, which has many of the same features. For more information on making the most of UAB resources for remote work, see IT’s Remote working technology toolkit.

5) Boost the bandwidth

Zoom requires at least an internet connection with at least 600kbps (kilobits per second) upload and download speed for high-quality video for 1:1 calling and 800kbps to 1Mbps upload and download speed for group video calls. Zoom recommends checking your home internet speed through free services such as Speedtest or Nperf. If you are using Wifi, you can maximize your speed by moving as close as possible to the internet router. See more speed-boosting tips from Zoom here.

If some participants do not have an internet connection that is fast enough for video-calling, note that Zoom says that using screen-sharing only (looking at one person’s computer screen) only requires 50-75kbps download speed and audio-only calls require 60-80 kbps.

Note that you can also use Zoom on your phone or tablet.

During the meeting:

6) Not talking? Mute your audio

Keeping your own audio muted cuts down on distracting sounds for all participants. A free-flowing conversation in a small group may be an exception, but for most Zoom meetings, it’s best to mute your own audio until you have something to say.

7) Look at the camera, not at your screen

We are trained to look at others while talking to them, so it’s natural to keep your eyes focused on the other meeting participants on your screen. To everyone else, however, it looks like you are staring down. Look into your computer’s camera while talking instead.

8) If you are the host, don’t be quick to leave

The person who initiated the Zoom meeting is usually the “host.” As soon as that person exits the meeting, it ends for everyone. Zoom recommends that the host remain in the meeting after it officially breaks up in case there are any follow-up questions or some participants want to engage in further discussion.