How Do I Zoom?

April 2020

By Brendan McLaughlin, Guild Board Member, and Jen Grogan, Guild Administrator

Video conferences have quickly become a way of life amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us are using them for everything from work meetings to visits with grandma—or grandkids!—and, now, Northwest Editors Guild events!

There is no clear end in sight for the period of social distancing necessary to flatten the infection curve, but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect online. For the foreseeable future we will be meeting on Zoom. If you’re new to Zoom, this post is for you! It will walk you through the process of setting up and participating in Zoom meetings.

Getting Started

You do not need a preexisting Zoom account, but you will need a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a steady internet connection, speakers or headphones, and a microphone (video camera is optional).

Start by clicking the URL in your invitation below “Join Zoom Meeting” (see the example below). If prompted, enter the Meeting ID. You will be prompted to download and run a Zoom client, which you must do so you can join. This will happen even if you’ve used Zoom before, so please be sure to allow enough time for the download—ten to fifteen minutes prior to the meeting should be more than enough. Enter your name and click “Join Meeting.” You will also need to enter a password, found under the Meeting ID in the invitation (see below for an example).

Then you will need to select an audio option. If you are connecting via a computer or tablet and have a microphone or headphones and speaker, use the “Join with Computer Audio” option. You can also test your speaker and microphone by clicking the link below the “Join with Computer Audio” button. Now is also a good time to test your camera and ensure you like the lighting/backdrop you will soon be sharing.

If you run into problems, here is a tutorial.

You also have the option of simply dialing in by phone. For this you will need the teleconferencing line and Meeting ID. The Meeting ID is the same whether you’re joining by phone or by internet.

Example Invitation

Topic: Editors Book Club—The Subversive Copyeditor
Time: Feb 25, 2020 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/453061648

Meeting ID: 452 061 548
Password: 414673

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,453061548# US (San Jose)
+19292056099,,453061548# US (New York)

Dial by your location
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 453 061 548
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/aeJAXBUq5m

Zoom Tools

Once you have joined a Zoom call, you will have access to a number of tools. Check the microphone icon first. You may need to click on it to connect the sound. For big groups, it’s a good idea to keep yourself muted unless you’re speaking. If you are muted and you try to speak, Zoom will recognize the sound on your end and pop up a reminder to un-mute yourself before speaking.

If you need a moment of privacy for some reason, you can click the “Stop Video” button to turn off your camera for a while. You will see the same red line across the video camera icon as you see when your audio is muted. If your device is portable and you get up to move around, it’s best to disable your camera so you don’t make other participants dizzy. Stopping your video can also be helpful if your internet connection is causing problems, as it cuts back on the amount of data you are transmitting over your connection.

Clicking on “Participants” opens a box on the right of your screen that shows a list of the participants in your current meeting. If you want, you can rename yourself here, or click the “Raise Hand” button at the bottom of this screen to notify the host that you want to say something, if you’re having a hard time being heard.

The “Share” button allows you to share your screen, a whiteboard where you can draw diagrams or make notes, any individual window you have open on your computer, or a particular file. This can be really useful if you want to share an agenda or a document, or if you want to show a website you’re looking at. Be aware that if you share your whole screen, other participants will be able to see everything you have up on your machine!

Clicking on “Chat” will open a Zoom group chat dialogue underneath the “Participants” panel mentioned above. Notice that the “To:” field in the chat dialogue above is a dropdown menu—you can send a message to everyone in the meeting, as shown in the screenshot, or you can select a single participant and send a message only to them.

The last item on the toolbar is “Leave Meeting” (or, if you are the host, “End Meeting”). Use this option only if you will not be returning to the meeting, or if you need to reset your connection.

What If I’m Feeling Awkward About My Appearance?

The Seattle Times has a great article on how to appear more professional while video conferencing! But you can always turn off your video if you don’t want to be seen.

What If I Have More Questions?

Zoom has a great page of tutorials available, including system requirements, frequently asked questions, and guides for Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS, as well as comparisons between their desktop and mobile versions. If you have questions about a specific meeting for the Guild, or if you can’t find the answers you need on Zoom’s page, please email info@edsguild.org for assistance.

Looking forward to seeing and/or hearing you at a future Guild Zoom event!

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Brendan McLaughlin

Brendan McLaughlin is a freelance writer and editor from Seattle. You can find out about his work on LinkedIn or his website.

Jen Grogan

In addition to being the Guild's administrator, Jen Grogan is a mother, writer, editor, and web content specialist based out of Seattle, where she lives with her husband, their baby son, a loud but adorable cat, and too many books. She’s written for Women Write About Comics, The Dream Foundry, and a few other online venues, but has not yet convinced herself to call any of her fiction manuscripts complete. As an editor, she encourages others to do as she says, not as she does. In her free time (mostly theoretical right now) she enjoys knitting, hiking, calligraphy, leading school tours for the Seattle Art Museum, and traveling. You can find her online at jengrogan.com.