OK, Zoomer!

Check Out These Tips To Take Your Skills Up a Notch
Zoom screen illustration

Illustration by Warren Craghead

April 3, 2020

By now you’ve probably used Zoom — the virtual meeting tool utilized for online classes and meetings at the University of Virginia — but there may be some advanced tricks you’re still curious about. 

These tips come from a variety of sources, including UVA Collab’s guidance for students and faculty

Set the Scene, and Hit Mute 

You’ve heard that you should have good lighting, but what does that mean? Don’t have a window behind you, for starters, because you’ll be backlit.  

You can simplify your background to avoid distractions, or if you like to stand out, use one of UVA’s or the Law School’s Zoom backgrounds. If your webcam is on the bottom of your laptop screen, you may need to prop your laptop on books or a higher surface to appear level with the camera. 

Edit your profile settings to set your audio to mute by default (and if you’re running a meeting, you can set it so all participants are initially muted). Set audio settings under your Zoom profile, and select the option to hold the spacebar down to temporarily unmute your audio. The hot key Alt+A also works for muting. If you need to test your setup, join a test at https://zoom.us/test.

If you will be accessing your online classes from a location in a different time zone than Eastern Time, update your time settings under profile settings

Wearing headphones can let family or roommates know you are tied up with Zoom, help you focus and deliver better sound. 

You can change whether you see a speaker or gallery view of all participants.  


Under “participants” in the bottom menu, you can use reactions, including the raise hand, yes, no, go slower and go faster buttons to engage. 

Learn more about chat and how to share your screen.  

Remember that Zoom classroom sessions are typically recorded for students’ later review, and hosts can record meetings or allow meetings to be recorded by users. A Zoom message will tell you if the session is being recorded when you join the meeting or when the recording starts. Hosts can save chats as well as video. 

If You Are Running a Meeting 

When creating a meeting, select the option “Mute participants upon entry” so microphones will be disabled by default as guests join the room. Watch the in-meeting controls video from Zoom to become familiar with other fundamental meeting controls. 

Make sure to secure your meeting; don’t share the meeting information on social media, and set a password to join. Here are eight tips. (Note: Zoom made some of these settings defaults April 5.)

Meetings can be creative — you can use a whiteboard or annotate a shared document.   

Take It to the Next Level 

You can more quickly navigate Zoom if you learn keyboard shortcuts.  

We’ll keep adding to this page; send your favorite Zoom suggestions to comm@law.virginia.edu.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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Mary M. Wood
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wood@law.virginia.edu / (434) 924-3786

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