Techilicious with Rajiv Makhni: How to become a Zoom pro!

Your primer on the app that puts freedom into the lockdown
Try a test meeting, which will also prompt you to download Zoom and sign into it
Try a test meeting, which will also prompt you to download Zoom and sign into it
Updated on Apr 12, 2020 02:46 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRajiv Makhni

In these strange times we live in, something else has happened that has never happened before. We all discovered a new name. Zoom. People that had never ever video conferenced before were suddenly thrust into 50-people online meetings and people that had never ever fired up the front camera of their laptop were suddenly attending online distance education sessions for hours on end. Yes, it’s a strange time to live in but it’s also made people learn things they’ve never done before. But for many people, these new apps, the new situations and new learnings have been tough and very intimidating. Here’s a quick primer on becoming a Zoom expert.

Zoom Zoomed

From 10 million users to 200 million users in a matter of days. An app that was built for enterprises and corporates was suddenly being used for online Kuchipudi dance classes, mathematics lessons, yoga sessions, cookery demos, community tambola games and just friends and relatives hanging out. The problem is that very few people (especially the teachers and educators) really know how to use the app well. Screeching microphones, shouting matches, everyone speaking at the same time, and video screens that were just blank, black spaces are the norm. Many make excuses to not get onto a Zoom call as they are daunted by how complex it all seems. Here’s a quick 101 on getting started with Zoom and becoming an expert on your first call.

Getting started

The process for your desktop or your mobile is pretty much the same so I’m going with the desktop version. Start by going to Zoom’s sign up page. While you can sign up with Google or Facebook, I would recommend you do it with your own email (safer, better for privacy in the long run). You will get an activation email – follow the steps in that and you’re pretty much set up. You should try a test meeting now, which will also prompt you to download the app and sign into it. Bang, you’re in your first Zoom meeting. The screen is clean and the rest of it is really simple.

Setting up your first real meeting

On the desktop app, click the invite button and you can now add your Zoom contacts or create an email with info on the Zoom meeting or create a URL that you can copy and send to others as an email or as a message (the third is the most convenient). Those who click on that URL are automatically added to your meeting. Again it works the same on your mobile app too.

Becoming a pro Zoomer

Be anyone: Too boring a room or ugly curtains behind you? Change that to anything you want. Go to ‘settings’, then ‘virtual background’ then select or upload your own images.

Start smart: Most people start awkwardly because they have babies crying behind them or their head at an awkward angle. Start smart by muting your audio and camera when you join a meeting. Go to ‘settings’, ‘audio’, ‘mute microphone when joining a meeting,’ then ‘video’, ‘turn off my video when joining a meeting.’

Audio genius: This one is for all the teachers and educators taking online classes. Ask everyone to mute their audio when you’re teaching by pressing the spacebar. Now when you have a question for someone and want them to respond, ask them to press the spacebar again to speak. There – you taught them something really new.

Emoji emotions: Be the cool one. Send emojis, don’t speak. A thumbs up or a clapping emoji. Also, you could send a raised hand emoji when you want to speak and thus have the most disciplined 99-people meeting ever. Go to the ‘reactions’ tab at the bottom of the meeting screen.

The switcheroo: Switch between only showing the person speaking (speaker view), to everyone at the same time (gallery view). It’s more fun to check other people’s expressions during a long meeting. Click the tab on the top right hand corner.

Share your stuff: Share your entire desktop, just one window or even a game or movie. This is great for collaborations and also makes you look like a pro. Click the share screen icon at the bottom.

Knock off 10 years: Just woke up, no make-up, bad lighting in the room? All your prayers have been answered. There’s a hidden beauty filter within Zoom. Go to ‘video settings’, ‘my video’ and then ‘touch-up my appearance.’ It may make you look like a wax doll, but that may be better than your early morning mug.

Make movies: Desktop users can make a movie of their entire meeting (mobile app users need to be paid subscribers). Go to ‘settings’, ‘recordings’ and toggle it on. Now you’ll get a record icon in the bottom.

There are many other options, such as House Party, Microsoft Teams and plain old Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype. But for ease of use and truly powerful features, almost nothing comes close to Zoom. Zoom it and these lockdown days will pass like a breeze.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

Techilicious appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, April 12, 2020

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