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Even if you don’t work from home, you will almost certainly have come across Zoom.

In light of the coronavirus crisis, the video conferencing app has become the go-to tool for all our virtual interactions — both business and personal.

Of course videoconferencing apps aren’t new. Zoom is just one in a long line of communication tools that include SkypeCisco Webex, and Google Meet. So why has it become the breakout tool of CoVID19 and how do you use Zoom?

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a cloud-based video communications app that allows you to set up virtual video and audio conferencing, webinars, live chats, screen-sharing, and other collaborative features. You don’t need an account to attend a Zoom meeting, and the platform runs on Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, which solves some compatibility headaches.

A big part of Zoom’s appeal is its simplicity. It’s easy to get started, the app is lightweight, and the interface is relatively intuitive to use with popular features like Gallery View — a mode that allows you to see every person on the call at once — built right into the app.

How to use Zoom like a pro: 5 hidden features to try

If you have become a regular Zoom user, it’s worth taking a moment to familiarise yourself with some of the app’s key features. These easy steps will help make your meetings more productive, so you get the most out of them as possible.

Change the background

Now that so many of us are working from home, our house is more than just our home. It’s our office headquarters. Professional backdrops can bridge the gap between homely and corporate. Zoom allows you to change your background, either by selecting from the app’s own database of photos and patterns or uploading one of your choice.

  1. In a Zoom meeting click the ^ arrow next to Start/Stop Video.
  2. Click Choose a virtual background…
  3. If prompted, click Download to download the package for virtual background.

Reduce background noise

One of the most useful features is the option to “Mute and unmute” with the spacebar. Virtual meetings are notorious for participants cross-talking, and that’s when they’re not being drowned out by background noise. Zoom allows you to mute yourself and make brief interjections by simply holding the space bar to enable mic and speak.

Record Zoom meeting

Just as you would take notes during a regular meeting, Zoom enables you to keep a copy of your virtual meeting for future reference. The app has a built-in recording feature that can be used to record both on mobile (paid app) and laptop/desktop (free and paid).

  1. Sign in to the Zoom web portal as an admin with the privilege to edit account settings.
  2. In the navigation panel, click Account Management then Account Settings.
  3. Navigate to the Recording tab and verify that the Cloud Recording setting is enabled.

Note: When you are conducting the Zoom meeting, click the ‘Record’ icon on the bottom toolbar.

Get audio transcript

You can also get an audio transcript. This feature automatically transcribes the audio of a meeting or webinar that you record. However, it is only available for paid users who have opted for cloud recording.

Sign into the Zoom web portal.
In the navigation menu, click Account Management then Account Settings.
Navigate to the Cloud recording option on the Recording tab and verify that the setting is enabled.
If the setting is disabled, click the Status toggle to enable it.
In the Advanced cloud recording settings, click the Audio transcript checkbox to enable it, then click Save to confirm the change.

Share screen

To help the call run smoother, you may find it useful to share your screen. Screen sharing is one of Zoom’s best features and the app does this better than any other video conferencing platform. With this option, you can either share your entire screen or just a part of it. You can enable screen sharing by clicking the ‘Share screen’ icon on the bottom toolbar.

If you happen to have two monitors, you should activate the Zoom feature. By doing so, the dual-monitor display feature will place the video layout and screen share content on two separate monitors/screens.

The host and attendee can screen share by clicking the Share Screen icon .

Zoom security breach

The sudden popularity of Zoom has seen its use surge across both public and private sector entities. In view of the app’s highly publicised cybersecurity issues, this has put the company under some significant scrutiny.

Indeed, The Intercept reported that, contrary to the company’s claims, Zoom meetings are not end-to-end encrypted. Meanwhile, Motherboard reported that Zoom has been leaking the email addresses of “at least a few thousand” people because of its policy to treat personal addresses as if they belong to the same company.

Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan has apologised to users, and the company is now aiming to make the service more secure by default. In other words, users won’t have to take their own measures because the security and privacy requirements will be built in from the start.

Zoom security fix

Announced on April 8, a recent Zoom change is an option called “Security” that will allow hosts to quickly respond to issues such as Zoom bombing by locking the meeting or removing participants. It will also restrict those taking part in the meeting from sharing their screens or renaming themselves. At the same time, the “Waiting Room” function is now on by default. This means hosts have to manually let their guests into the meeting, helping to prevent Zoom bombers from suddenly breaking in.

Last but not least, Zoom has also announced that it has acquired Keybase, a secure messaging and file-sharing service. The acquisition of this respected team of security and encryption engineers will accelerate Zoom’s plan to build end-to-end encryption capable of matching Zoom’s current scalability.

Just as with social distancing, improving the quality of your video call experience relies on a community and security effort. Since it is unlikely many of us will be returning to the office for a while yet, we should all make an effort to get the best out of our Zoom calls – this will help avoid “Zoom fatigue” and make calls less of a strain for everyone.

If you would like to read more ideas about how to work from home efficiently, check out our blog article and join us on Twitter.