Quick Guide to Using Zoom

Quick Guide to Using Zoom

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Zoom is an online video conferencing application. It allows groups of people to gather for meetings using a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. It even allows people to call in with any kind of phone and participate in gatherings.

A Zoom meeting needs to be hosted by someone, usually the meeting's organizer. Your pastor, or other church leader, would sign up for an account and then schedule or start a meeting. They are the "host "and have some control over the meeting, like sending out invitations to join the meeting.

Joining A Zoom Meeting

There are several ways to join a Zoom meeting.

1) You can join using a link provided in an email. Click the link and your computer's browser will automatically prompt you to download the Zoom app. You must allow this to join the meeting. NOTE: in order to participate in a Zoom meeting, your computer must have a microphone and speakers. To allow others to see you, you will need a webcam, which most laptops have but not desktop computers. External webcams connected to a computer work fine as well. You don't need a camera to use Zoom and see what is on the screen. A camera only allows others to see you.

2) You can join with a smartphone. It is similar to joining with a computer; you need the Zoom app to join. The steps are similar to joining with a computer.

3) You can dial into the conversation with a phone. You simply dial the location number. Then when prompted, enter the Meeting ID number followed by the # sign. The Meeting ID is on the meeting invite.

  •  When entering as a phone participant, your video is off and your sound is usually on. It is helpful to know the control *6 which mutes and unmutes your phone. Just hit *6 to talk and *6 again to mute. Phones create a lot of background noise in a Zoom meeting so it's helpful to a meeting if phone users are muted when not speaking.
  • An invite from Free basic Zoom account may not give a dial in number, but the local New York number 1-646-558-8656 does appear to work. It may be necessary to give users this number to call and the Meeting ID from your invite. 

Let's look at joining a meeting on a computer:

Start by clicking the link in the meeting invitation. Your computer's default browser will automatically try to launch the Zoom software.

  • If the software is not already on your computer, the browser will automatically download the app. Follow all the prompts to install it (just click where it tells you to click). If it asks you to "Run" a file, click yes or run. You will join the meeting as soon as the software installs. This should only take a few seconds.
  •  If the software is already on the computer, you will be asked to "launch" the Zoom app.

Before entering the meeting you will be asked to join audio. Click "Join with Computer Audio." 


Meeting Controls on a Computer

At the bottom of your screen, you should see the control bar. If not, move your cursor on the screen and it should appear.

MUTE/UNMUTE: This toggles your computer's microphone on and off. If you have a red line through the button, it will read "unmute" meaning you are currently muted. It is very helpful to all if participants are muted at all times except when one needs to speak. We also recommend that users wear earbuds or earphone to hear the meeting as your microphone will pick up the sound from the your speakers and start feedback (that high-pitched annoying sound that interrupts the meeting).

 START VIDEO/END VIDEO: This turns your computer's camera on or off. If you don't have a webcam, others will only see a generic icon representing you on the screen. But you can still participate through audio. You will need to hit START VIDEO to see all the participants.

INVITE: This allows you or the host to invite others to participate.

PARTICIPANTS: This brings up a list of  those in the meeting on the right side of your screen.

SHARE: This allows the "host" or you to share what is on your screen. It gives you or the host the ability to share from other applications open on your computer. The host may shut this off for participants.

CHAT: This allows you to type a message either to the entire group or privately to an individual by clicking the recipient under "To:" in the message box.

About Zoom Accounts

Zoom has several pricing packages, but the basic account is free. Just visit zoom.ussign up with an email and password and you can start hosting meetings. The basic account allows the host to run a 40-minute meeting with up to 100 participants. A warning will signal at 30 minutes. In order to have more time, you will need an upgraded account. See the plans here.

Zoom's online help center has lots of video tutorials that are simple to follow.

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