Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Quick Start Guide for Zoom Meeting Hosts

  1. As with any other new technology, it's helpful to have attended a few meetings and learned how to navigate and customize your settings as a participant before you attempt to host your first meeting. Luckily, such opportunities abound.
  2. The main difference between hosting and attending a meeting is the ability/responsibility to keep the meeting running smoothly for everyone. Check out some of the Zoom training materials https://zoom.us/resources and/or practice if you can with just a few people so you can get used to muting and unmuting others and look at and customize your settings before you try it with a larger and/or public group.
  3. Know that there are differences between the free account and paid ones. 
    • The most notable is the time available. Free accounts are limited to 40 minutes or less for three or more participants. Paid can go for unlimited amounts of time.
    • Free accounts don't include a telephone access number. Users must join via the Internet.
  4. The issue of security has recently made hosting and running a successful Zoom meeting even more of a challenge. Unfortunately, with everyone rushing to online meetings and virtual events, many of the anonymous characters whose goal in life would appear to be making the Internet a most distasteful place for others have turned their attentions to disrupting Zoom meetings. As of Saturday, April 3, 2020, Zoom has set some security precautions as default settings. 
    • Scheduling a new meeting now automatically includes an added password. This is automatically added to the meeting URL. For someone manually entering a Meeting ID, they will also have to enter the password. You cannot disable this feature. Please note: URLs with passwords should not be shared on public websites. This defeats the security feature of the password. Instead consider sharing the information with Meeting ID and instructions for whom to contact to obtain the password. You can send individual invitations to key participants by email including URL with password.
    • Invited participants will also be placed into a waiting room before they can enter the meeting. This does make it a lot more cumbersome, especially if you are hosting a relatively large gathering, especially with people or user names you can't readily identify. New users may not have customized their settings and may enter the waiting room as simply iPhone. Zoom provides a lot of information about Waiting Room on their website https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115000332726-Waiting-Room

    Some of the best information and advice I've seen recently comes from the ADL: How to Prevent Zoombombing https://www.adl.org/blog/how-to-prevent-zoombombing
  5. As the ADL article recommends, it's useful to have at least two co-hosts. One can be responsible for the content of the meeting while the other monitors chat, waiting room, muting and unmuting participants, turning on and off video, etc. All of these things can influence the quality of the meeting. For example, turning off video can help improve sound quality when there are bandwidth issues. Muting attendees who are not speaking avoids disruptions from dogs barking or other intrusions. Unwanted guests may have to be removed. It's much easier to handle these issues when you're not also trying to lead a discussion or give a presentation.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Zoom Quick Start Guide for Meeting/Program Attendees

Many of us are turning to Zoom for video conferencing to replace meetings and other face to face gatherings during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.

Some are relatively experienced with logging into and/or hosting video meetings. Others are having to do this and guide others for the first time. For the latter, I've put together this guide as a means of helping to make this new tool a bit easier.

  1. You will receive an invitation.
    Perhaps it comes as an email. (Be sure to check some of your other folders if you're expecting an invitation and don't see it. Gmail, for one, tends to sort these coming out of mail programs as Promotions. You may find meeting/event invitations there as well.)
    Or you may find it in an event notice from a newsletter or Facebook page.
  2. The invitation will probably look something like this:
    Topic: Anytown Virtual Event
    Time: Mar 30, 2020 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting

    Meeting ID: 555 555 5555

    As of April 4th, the meeting links will look much longer as they include an encrypted password for extra security. It will look more like this:

    But clicking on it should take you directly into the meeting.

    If someone will be joining the meeting from a computer, tablet or smart phone with Internet access, all s/he needs to do is click on the link above. It will prompt the user to download the necessary app and/or go to the Zoom website where they can join the meeting.

    One tap mobile
    +16695555555,, 5555555555# US (San Jose)
    +13465555555,, 5555555555# US (Houston)

    One tap mobile may not be particularly useful for most users. When we tried it out, it worked fairly easily if one could copy and paste from email into their phone's dialer. Then it provides a quick way to dial in and listen to the audio portion of a meeting but not the video. Might be an option for someone who is fairly comfortable with technology but has limited or no bandwidth where they're located.

    Dial by your location
    +Above phone number (San Jose)
    +Above phone number US (Houston)
    Followed by additional phone numbers for other US cities and/or just US
    Meeting ID: 555 555 5555
    Password: 654321

    This would be the option I would recommend for anyone who has a cell phone, but not a smart phone, or perhaps is not at all comfortable with technology. Here they just select a number. The locations may make a difference if there is a local one, if not any of them should work. The user will then be prompted to enter the meeting ID. So, all it takes is a phone number followed by the pound sign #, then the meeting ID followed by the pound sign #

    Note due to increased demand, free accounts no longer come with phone support. Someone who wants to join a zoom meeting hosted by a free account must do so via the Internet using an app or web browser.
  3. Or you may find an online gathering you'd like to attend via a Facebook event notice or email list. In which case, you may only get the following information
    Time: Wednesday, April 29th, 05:30 pm MDT
    Location: Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/123456789
    Meeting ID: 123 456 78

    Clicking on the Zoom Meeting link should provide you with access to the meeting. There is no phone access available.
  4. Waiting rooms are also becoming increasingly common as hosts strive to make their meetings more secure. You can make things easier on hosts by downloading Zoom ahead of time and setting up the app for your computer, tablet or smart phone with your name. That way, hosts don't have to try to guess who iPhone might be. https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting
  5. It's good meeting etiquette to mute your microphone except when you're talking. It cuts down on background noise and makes it easier to hear and follow the main speaker. If you're in the Zoom app, you'll find a microphone at the bottom of the screen. Click on it to mute and unmute. If the host has everyone muted but allows participants to unmute to speak, remember to mute again when you're done speaking.
  6. Users who want to get more comfortable using Zoom can view one or more of the tutorials on their website. I would recommend starting with Join a Meeting

  7. There are additional tutorials available in the Zoom Resource Center under Zoom How to Videos https://zoom.us/resources