COVID 19 – Zoom for Beginners


Zoom is a cloud-based meeting platform that provides video, audio, and screen sharing options across multiple platforms, including mobile. Join any Zoom meeting by clicking the meeting URL, or by entering the meeting ID into the Zoom Web Portal (website), the desktop app, or mobile app. You will need a computer, tablet, or smartphone with a speaker or headphones.

Zoom participation basics

1)  Join the meeting early to establish the audio and video connections and to work out technical problems; close unneeded applications and notices to improve connectivity.

2)  The easiest way to join the Zoom meeting is to click the link in the email invite.

  • You may be instructed to follow prompts to download the Zoom application; the app may be needed to use meeting chat or polls.
  • Zoom offers a test link to check connectivity:
  • If you join via telephone, use the teleconferencing number in the invite.

3)  A message may appear on your screen telling you that you will automatically join the meeting when the host arrives.

4) Choose if you would like to connect audio and/or video when you click join.

5)  Mute your microphone during the meeting to reduce noise and distractions. Any sound (rustling paper, barking dog, etc.) with the mic on may bring your image and sound to center screen. Click the mute button ON to contribute, OFF when done.

6)  Zoom’s chat function (if enabled) is a useful way to comment without interrupting. You can send a question or comment to everyone, or privately to an individual participant by using the pull-down menu in the chat bar, a column usually on the side, Click the triangle, a pull-down menu, and choose.

Trouble-shooting: Internets, devices, and WiFi versus hard-wired (via a direct cable or cord) may limit connectivity; try connecting to audio by phone, and watch video from the computer. In a pinch, just rely on the phone call-in. Muting video and audio unless you are speaking can help.

Participant menu bar

A typical participant menu bar–found along the bottom of the Zoom screen–would look like this:

Specific feature availability will vary with computer capacity and settings selected by the meeting host. Features may include the following:

Mute (or unmute) your microphone
Start video (or stop): turns camera on/off; the red slash means it’s off
Chat opens a chat dialog panel on the right.

  • Click on chat to open panel
  • Select recipient (public message displays to entire group, or private message to specific individual)
  • Type message in text box at bottom of panel
  • Press enter to send

Record: Start or stop a cloud or local recording

Meeting host controls

Invite: invite others to join meeting.

Manage Participants (meeting host controls): opens the participant’s window.

Share screen (meeting host controls): shares a desktop or application with the group; green means screen sharing is enabled.

Other on-screen participant features

Gallery/speaker view (often top right): gallery view displays individual tiles for each meeting participant; speaker view shows the current active speaker, changing with each speaker (or mic noise).

Raise Hand icon: used to raise a virtual hand so the meeting host can respond to a participant or activate their mic.

Learn more about ZOOMbombing and how to avoid it. 

Find cost comparisons and notes on other Virtual Meeting Options

See our guidelines on File and Document Sharing and Videos and Livestreaming

Updated 4/7/2020.