7 Secret Zoom Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Meetings

These genius add-ons and features will take your video meetings and chats to the next level.

With countless individuals suddenly working from home and separated from loved ones due to the coronavirus pandemic, video conferencing apps like Zoom have become part of everyday life for many of us. However, there's more to the popular video chat service than meets the eye. In fact, there are some genius ways to make each meeting and virtual hangout more effective and even fun built right into the platform that even regular users probably don't know about. From integrating other apps you already use to ways to spruce yourself up before taking your calls, here are the Zoom tips and tricks you need to know now—and how to use them. For more ways to make the most of those meetings, discover these The Dos and Don'ts of Effective Video Conference Calls.

Touch up your appearance.

young biracial woman on a video call while sitting at her desk

If applying makeup, brushing your hair, or even daily showers have fallen by the wayside since you started self-isolating, you're not alone. However, if you still want to look put together for your Zoom meetings, there's an easy way to fake it.

"You can apply some virtual makeup and make your skin look better by selecting the 'Touch Up My Appearance' option under 'Video Settings,'" says Ethan Taub, CEO of digital financial companies Goalry and Loanry. The feature softens the focus on your face, which has a flattering effect.

Record your meeting.

woman on five-way video call with coworkers at work

When you're spending all day in and out of meetings—especially with the distractions your home environment adds to the mix—odds are that some details slip through the cracks. Fortunately, there's a handy Zoom feature you can use instead of breaking out your notebook.

"It is extremely easy… to record the meetings without using any external app," explains Hamna Amjad, project manager at tech company DSRPT.

To do this, click "My Meeting Settings" and then the "Recording" tab. Underneath, you'll find an option to turn on local recording. Once you're in the meeting, just click "Record on This Computer" on your main Zoom screen, and it will allow you to capture the meeting. However, if you're a guest of the meeting, you need to make sure the host enables screen recording before the meeting starts for you to do this. And it's just good practice to let the rest of the participants on the call know that you're recording as well.

Make a transcript of your meeting.

Woman working at home having a video conference with colleagues

Don't feel like watching the play-by-play of a meeting you've already sat through? "You can get transcriptions of your meetings, i.e. text files of your audio or video recordings," notes Amjad, who adds that this feature is only available in paid Zoom accounts. Also, recordings have to be saved to the cloud afterward in order for the automatic transcription to work.

To have your Zoom meeting transcribed, go to "Cloud Recording" under "Account Settings." Under the "Advanced Cloud Recording Settings" menu, click "Audio Transcript," and hit "Save."

Remember that automatic transcription services aren't always perfect and may have trouble in particular with proper names or dense technical terms.

Sync with your Google Calendar.

google calendar on computer

If you do most of your team work through Google, the Google Calendar add-on can help you seamlessly integrate your Zoom calls with your existing schedule.

To do this, simply log in to your Google Admin or personal Google account, go to the G Suite Marketplace, navigate to "Zoom for Google Calendar," and install the add-on. And when you do return to working away from home, you can say goodbye to these 5 Things You'll Never See in Your Office Again After Coronavirus.

Segment your meeting into breakout rooms.

young white woman typing in chat function on video call while wfh

Having too many people talking on one Zoom call can make it almost impossible to follow what's going on. If you want to discuss something in a smaller group, using the breakout room feature can help limit distractions to the main group.

"The meeting host can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually and can switch between sessions at any time," explains Amjad. To start one, navigate to "Account Management" and click "Settings." Click "Breakout Room" in the "Meeting" tab, and make sure this option is enabled. If you can't do this, confirm that the meeting admin has enabled this setting for your meeting.

Welcome your guests into a waiting room.

young black man wearing headphones on video call

If you're hosting a Zoom meeting, dedicate a waiting room space where everyone can pass the time until every invitee arrives. This is basically a screen that will tell everyone that the meeting will begin whenever the host says so, which eliminates those awkward minutes of smalltalk that early birds have to endure before the rest of the group signs on.

To enable this feature, open the "Settings" tab and click "In Meeting." Scroll down to the "Waiting Room" feature and slide the button to activate it. When you create a meeting in the future, you'll have the option to enable a waiting room for it, as well as being able to invite specific meeting guests to that waiting room. And if you're looking to make a career change, discover these 7 Remote Jobs You Didn't Know Existed.

Set a virtual background.

young woman on video call on iphone
Shutterstock/Shift Drive

Don't feel like straightening up your workspace before your next Zoom meeting? There's an easy way to hide that clutter or just liven up the chat: add a virtual background! You can put anything you want behind you, from a mountain range to a litter of puppies to the hangout from your favorite TV show.

Under "Account Settings," navigate to the "Meeting" tab, where you'll find this option. Make sure this setting is enabled by sliding the button to the "Turn On" position. When you're in a meeting, you can put those backgrounds to use by clicking the upwards-facing arrow next to the "Start/Stop Video" feature. Scroll down to "Choose a Virtual Background," and whatever image you choose or upload will show up behind you. The only caveat is that your computer has to have certain specifications in order for this feature to work.


Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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