Video conferencing software is the cornerstone of any successful and productive team. Video conferencing tools, like Zoom, allow individuals to meet and work together productively "face-to-face" when meeting in-person isn't possible. This makes meeting remotely much more human, which essential in order to help users feel and stay connected.
This year the number of Zoom users has grown rapidly surrounding concerns for coronavirus (COVID-19). It's estimated that the company has added 2.22 million monthly active users so far in 2020, while in all of 2019 it added 1.99 million users.
We'll dive into the details of Zoom and everything you need to know about subscribing, getting started, and pro tips for getting the most out of your Zoom experience.
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Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing platform that can be used for video conferencing meetings, audio conferencing, webinars, meeting recordings, and live chat. According to our research, Zoom is the most popular video conferencing solution for companies with 500 employees or fewer, and the second-most popular solution for companies with more than 500 employees, after Skype for Business. According to Zoom's S-1 filing in early 2019, more than half of Fortune 500 companies are using Zoom, and it earned an average NPS of more than 70 in 2018.
Next, let's dig into the most common Zoom use cases in a typical workplace: Zoom Meetings and Zoom Rooms.
What is a Zoom Meeting? Zoom Meetings are the foundation of Zoom, and the term refers to video conferencing meetings using the platform that allow remote and co-located meeting attendees to communication frictionlessly. Since you you don't need to have a Zoom account to attend a Zoom meetings, you can even meet with clients or conduct interviews with remote candidates virtually.
A "Zoom Meeting" simply refers to a meeting that's hosted using Zoom, and attendees can join the meeting in-person, via webcam or video conferencing camera, or via phone. For example, here's a photo of my team during a Zoom Meeting. We were all attending the meeting remotely, but sometimes, we attend the meeting via our company's conference room, where we pair Zoom with the Meeting Owl to create an inclusive meeting experience for all attendees.
A Zoom Room is the physical hardware setup that lets companies launch Zoom Meetings from their conference rooms. Zoom Rooms are a software-defined video conferencing hardware system for a conference room that allow users to schedule, launch, and run Zoom Meetings with the push of a button. Zoom Rooms require an additional subscription on top of a Zoom subscription and are an ideal solution for larger companies with many employees holding Zoom meetings on a regular basis.
To set up a Zoom Room, you need:
Now that we understand what Zoom is and the key terms for using it, let's walk through the steps to get set up with Zoom.
Zoom offers four distinct pricing tiers for your business subscription (not including a Zoom Room subscription).
1. Zoom Free: This is the best option if you're testing out Zoom, or if you work solo or with only one or two other people in the same location as you and do the brunt of the meeting scheduling and coordinating. With the free version of Zoom, users can hold an unlimited number of meetings, but group meetings with multiple participants are capped at 40 minutes in length, and meeting can't be recorded.
2. Zoom Pro: This is the best option if you're using Zoom with a small team with at least one member working remotely full-time or part-time so you can collaborate effectively, no matter where the meeting is hosted. Zoom Pro costs $14.99/month/meeting host, and this tier allows hosts to create personal meeting IDs for recurring Zoom meetings, allows meeting recording in the cloud or on users' devices, and caps group meeting durations at 24 hours.
3. Zoom Business: Zoom Business is best-suited to small to medium-sized businesses with multiple teams regularly scheduling Zoom meetings. This tier costs $19.99/month/meeting host, and it offers cool features for businesses to brand their Zoom meetings with vanity URLs and company branding, dedicated customer support, and transcripts of Zoom meetings recorded in the cloud.
4. Zoom Enterprise: For businesses with 1,000 employees or more, this tier of Zoom offers unlimited cloud storage for recordings, a dedicated customer success manager, and discounts on webinars and Zoom Rooms. This tier of Zoom costs $19.99/month/meeting host.
Additionally, if you want to set up Zoom Rooms, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial, after which Zoom Rooms require an additional $49/month/room subscription, and video webinars using Zoom cost $40/month/host.
Once you've selected the Zoom plan you'd like to start using, you can sign up and download Zoom onto your computer to start using it. Users can sign up using their work email if they're signing up for an individual free account, or if your system administrator is signing up for a Pro, Business, or Enterprise account, you'll be invited to sign up for Zoom as one of your company's hosts.
Next, you'll want to sync Zoom to your calendar so you can schedule Zoom meetings that appear on your calendar, or so you can easily add a Zoom Meeting link to events on your calendar so remote participants can join. To do this, when you're signed into Zoom, navigate to "Settings," then "Meetings," then "Synced Calendars." Then, toggle on "Sync Zoom Meetings from Calendars," and tap to select the calendars you want to sync with Zoom. By doing this, you can sync calendars with Zoom in both directions, so your calendar client will offer an option to add a Zoom link, and your calendar will show Zoom Meetings you schedule in the Zoom app.
If your business sets up Zoom Rooms, you can sync those rooms to your company's shared calendar so employees can see which meeting rooms are available when they go to book. Zoom Rooms can also be set up to display upcoming meetings so employees are cognizant of when they need to start wrapping up, or when they can sit down in a drop-in meeting.
Now you're set up to get started using Zoom. You can schedule a meeting using Zoom using your calendar client (as explained and shown above), or you can schedule a meeting via the Zoom app. To do this, you can start a new meeting in the moment by clicking "New Meeting," or clicking "Schedule Meeting" to book a Zoom meeting for the future:
Then, you can edit the details of your meeting -- for example, you can schedule a recurring meeting, set a meeting password, and choose which calendar you want to sync.
Once you're in a Zoom meeting, you can use features like turning your video and microphone settings on and off, inviting other meeting participants, chatting with other meeting participants, recording the meeting, and sharing your screen.
Now that you understand the basics of Zoom, use these pro tips for getting the best possible experience.
Prevent uninvited guests from joining your Zoom meeting by enabling Zoom's privacy settings.
The waiting room feature allows the meeting host to determine when participants can enter the meeting. The meeting host can admit attendees one-by-one or all at once. When you're signed into Zoom, click the Schedule button to create a new meeting. Click on Advanced Options, check the box next to Enable Waiting Room.
Once your meeting has started, click the up arrow next to Share Screen, then click Advanced sharing options. Under Who can share? select Only Host to make sure the meeting host is the only participant who can share their screen.
When you're in your meeting, click Manage Participants in the Zoom toolbar. You should see your meeting participants listed on the right-hand side of the screen. In the bottom right-hand corner, click the More button and select Lock Meeting. This prevents any new participants from joining the meeting, even if they have the meeting password.
In your Zoom app, you can set your preferences that will apply to every Zoom Meeting you attend.
Some of my favorites are adjusting my video preferences: Check "Touch up my appearance" to add a filter to your webcam so you don't need to put on makeup (or shower) before joining a Zoom Meeting from home (we don't judge), and check "Turn off my video when joining a meeting" so your face doesn't inadvertently appear on a huge projector screen if you're joining an all-hands meeting (this has, unfortunately, happened to me).
If you're holding a Zoom meeting that involves multiple cross-functional team members, or if you're kicking off a long-term project, or even if one or two members of your team are out of the office, it's a good practice to record those meetings for future reference. You can record meetings to your device or to the Zoom cloud for later reviewing to make sure everyone is on the same page.
If your team uses Slack to communicate in real time, your system administrator can integrate Zoom and Slack for easy video conferencing on the fly. If you or a team member are working remotely and are trying to discuss a complicated concept via text alone, it might be a challenge. Instead of going through booking a Zoom meeting on your calendar, you can type "/zoom" into Slack, and a meeting link will appear directly in your Slack conversation for you and your teammate to join.
This is a basic rule of video conferencing etiquette, but it bears repeating, no matter which software you use. Mute yourself when you're not talking to cut down on distracting background noise. In your preferences, you can set yourself to be automatically muted when you join a meeting. When you're ready to un-mute yourself, you can save yourself a click by pressing and holding the space key if you need to chime in for a brief second.
Zoom is probably such a popular video conferencing software option because it's so easy to use: Once you're set up, you only need a few clicks to start talking to your colleagues. To get a great experience for co-located and remote Zoom meeting participants, choose a video conferencing camera for your Zoom Room that will make sure meeting attendees feel included and a part of a conversation. Our video conferencing comparison guide can help you figure out which camera might be the best option for your team.
To learn more, read about how to eliminate voice echoing on your next video call.