By Celina Colby

Now that most of our social and work interactions have moved online, knowing how to use video conferencing has become a crucial skill. Zoom is one of the most popular platforms for video conferencing and events during this time. It may seem intimidating but as an end-user it’s really quite easy to learn. Let’s get you online!

Step One: Click the Meeting Link

When you attend an online event or meeting, the person hosting the activity will send a link to your e-mail account. Click the link and it will open in a web browser if you have not downloaded the Zoom application or in a separate window if you have downloaded the Zoom application.

You do NOT have to have downloaded Zoom to attend a Zoom event. Anyone with an Internet connection and the invite link can participate.

Step Two: Connect Audio and Video

When you click the link to open your meeting a dialogue box will pop up in front of the screen with a green button that says “Join Audio Conference by Computer.” Click that green button, that’s how you’ll be able to speak during the event. Your video should connect automatically and you should be able to see yourself on the screen. If you typically have something blocking your video monitor (like a piece of tape of paper), remove that.

If the other meeting participants are not able to hear you or you do not see a dialogue box pop up when you enter the meeting, click the “Join Audio” button on the lower left-hand side of the screen. It has a symbol of a pair of headphones and a green arrow. That will connect your audio.

If you see a photo of yourself or a blank screen and no video image, click the “Start Video” button on the lower left-hand side of the screen. It has an icon of a video camera with a red line through it. That will connect your video.

Step Three: Chat With Meeting Members

If you want to type something to the meeting members instead of speaking, for example a link to a website, you can do so using the “Chat” button in the center of the lower menu. The button has a word bubble on it. After you press chat a dialogue box will appear next to your Zoom meeting. Next to “To:” it will say “Everyone.” But you can select a specific person to send a chat to if you only want to address them.

Step Four: Consider Meeting Etiquette

There are some basic Zoom etiquette rules that apply to most calls. The primary rule is that you mute your sound by clicking the “Mute” button with the microphone icon in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. This silences all noise from you and your computer while you’re not speaking. It’s polite to mute yourself when you’re not talking to avoid background noise or disruption for the other meeting members. When you want to speak press the same button, which will now say “Unmute.”

Another rule is to in mind that anything you type in the “Chat” box, even if it’s to one person and not everyone, gets saved on a transcript for the meeting host at the end of the call. So if you type something sassy, the meeting host will see it at the end.

Step Five: Leave the Meeting

After the meeting is over you can press the “Exit Meeting” button to leave the meeting, or press the close window button that you would normally use to close an Internet browser window or tab. If you close the window a popup box will ask if you would like to leave the meeting. Select that option.

Voila! It’s that simple. Not all virtual events are hosted on the Zoom platform, but it is one of the most popular and will familiarize you with the functions of most similar platforms.  Just a few button clicks and you can be chatting with your friends, taking an online art course, or watching a town meeting.