Zoom for Beginners

Guest blog from Gareth Leaney

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a service that allows lots of people to connect to each other at the same time. It works on a computer, a laptop, a tablet or a phone.

If you have a microphone and a camera, other people can see and hear you too (depending on the settings.

There are lots of other similar websites and apps (such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts, Houseparty). If you’ve used one of these before, Zoom is very similar. If you have never used one of these before, don’t worry! It is not too difficult to get started.

What do I need to get started with Zoom?

The essentials

You need a desktop computer, a laptop, or a tablet. You can also use a smartphone, but a bigger screen will make it easier to see what is happening on screen.

Speakers so you can hear what’s going on. If you have a laptop or tablet, these will be built in.

An internet connection. If your internet connection is slow, you might have problems joining the meeting.

If you use your mobile phone data to access the internet, remember that our meeting will probably use quite a lot of your data, and it might be expensive.

Helpful, but not essential

Headphones. The sound is often easier to hear if you use headphones.

A microphone so that you can join in the conversation. If you have a tablet or laptop, this will probably be built in, or there may be one attached to your headphones. If you don’t have a microphone, don’t worry – you can still hear what is going on.

A camera connected to your computer (sometimes called a webcam) so we can see you. Most laptops and tablets come with these already built in – look for a black dot or hole near the top or side of the screen.

If you have a desktop computer you might need to connect one.

Step 1: Sign Up

Before you can use Zoom, you have to sign up. Signing up is completely free.

It’s better if you do this ahead of time, as it can take a few minutes to get set up.

If you have a laptop or desktop computer:

  1. Open your internet browser and type zoom.us in the bar at the top. This will take you to the Zoom website.
  1. Click on the orange button at the top, that says “Sign up, it’s free”
  2. Enter your date of birth when asked.
  3. Enter your email address. (It will ask for your work email, but it can be any email address that you have access to).
  4. A box will pop up asking you to confirm you are happy to receive emails from Zoom. If you click Confirm for now, you can change this later.
  5. You will then need to open your emails and find the email from Zoom, with the subject “Please activate your Zoom account.” In the email there will be a blue button with the words “Activate Account”. Click the button.
  6. This will take you back to the Zoom website. You will be asked if you are signing up on behalf of a school. Click on the circle next to the word ‘No,’ and then click ‘Continue’.
  7. Fill in the rest of your details, including a password that you will be able to remember. (Your password needs to have at least 8 characters, and it has to have at least one letter, at least one number, and at least one capital letter). When you have a suitable password, the instructions should turn green.
  8. Once you have filled all the boxes, click the orange “Continue” button.
  9. The next screen will ask if you want to recommend Zoom to your friends. For now, you can just click the grey box that says, “Skip this step”.

Congratulations, you have signed up to Zoom! Now you need to download Zoom…

Step 2: Download Zoom

You don’t have to download Zoom to use it, but it is much easier to use if you do. It will work on most laptops, computers and tablets.

If you have a laptop or desktop computer:

  1. Go to the Zoom website, zoom.us

2. Click on Resources in the top right corner of the page:

3. A menu will appear. Click on the top item, Download Zoom Client

4. On the next screen, the top option should be “Zoom Client for Meetings.” Click on the blue “Download” button to transfer Zoom to your computer.

6. The next part will be slightly different depending on your computer or laptop. But you will need to click on the downloaded file, and then keep clicking continue until the process has finished. By the end, you should have this symbol on your computer

The next step is to join the meeting!

If you have a tablet:

  1. On your tablet, go to the Zoom website, zoom.us
  2. Click on Resources in the top right corner of the page:

3. A menu will appear. Click on the top item, Download Zoom Client.

4. On the next screen, scroll down until you find “Zoom Mobile Apps.

5. If you have an iPad, click the Apple logo on the left. If you have another kind of tablet, click the Google Play button on the right.

6. Follow the instructions to download the app. You should see the Zoom logo on your tablet screen:

The next step is to join the meeting!

Step 3: Join the meeting

Before the meeting, Tom will send an email with an invitation to the meeting. It will say something like this:

Tom Davenport is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Townsend Community Group
Time: Apr 26, 2020 08:00 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86768548867?pwd=U2dpQStheDVqU0R0SXQrbWdGTWMrQT
Meeting ID: 123 4567 8900
Password: 123456

You can join the meeting from around 7.45pm on Sunday. If you try to join the meeting before then, it won’t work.

  1. Click the link in the email (the underlined section in blue). This should open up a new window.
  2. If you see a box that says, “Open zoom.us?” click the button that says “Open zoom.us.” It should open up Zoom on your computer or tablet.
  3. If you are asked for your log in details, enter the email address and password you used when
    you signed up.
  4. If you are asked for the meeting ID or password, you can find these in Tom’s welcome email.
  5. If you see a box asking for access to your microphone or camera, click “OK.”
  6. If you see this message, you just need to wait for a few minutes. This is a bit like taking a seat in the waiting room before you are welcomed into the meeting.

Please wait, the meeting will let you in soon

When you join the meeting on a laptop or desktop, you should see a box like this one. Click “Join with Computer Audio.”

On a tablet, you will need to click the “Join audio” symbol, and then select
“Call with Internet Audio.”

Hooray! You are now part of the Zoom meeting!

How to control what other people can see

If you are using a laptop or desktop computer:
You should see controls like this at the bottom of the screen:

You can ignore most of them! The main ones you need to worry about are:
Mute
If you don’t want to be heard by anyone, you can mute your microphone. Just click the
microphone symbol. If your microphone is muted, it will have a red line through it. This means that no-one can hear you.


If you want to be heard, you will need to unmute your microphone. Click the microphone symbol again, and the diagonal line will disappear.


The host can also mute your microphone to make sure everyone can hear OK. If this happens, you will need to wait for them to unmute your microphone before you can speak to the group.


Start Video / Stop Video
This turns your camera on or off. If your camera is off, there will be a red line through the camera symbol. If you want to turn you camera on, click the symbol again. The red line will disappear when your camera is off.


Leave Meeting
If you need to leave the meeting, click “Leave Meeting.” The rest of us will be able to continue the meeting, but we won’t be able to see you any more, and you won’t be able to see us.

If you want to rejoin the meeting, you will have to click the link in Tom’s email again.

If you are using a tablet:
You should see controls like this at the bottom of the screen:

You can ignore most of them! The main ones you need to worry about are:


Audio
If you don’t want to be heard by anyone, you can mute your microphone. Just click the speaker symbol (“Audio”). If your microphone is muted, it will have a red cross next to it through it. This means that no-one can hear you.


If you want to be heard, you will need to unmute your microphone. Click the speaker symbol again, and the cross will disappear.


The host can also mute your microphone to make sure everyone can hear OK. If this happens, you will need to wait for them to unmute your microphone before you can speak to the group.

Start Video / Stop Video
This turns your camera on or off. If your camera is off, there will be a red cross next to the camera symbol. If you want to turn you camera on, click the symbol again. The red cross will disappear when your camera is off.


Leave Meeting
If you need to leave the meeting, click “Leave Meeting” in the top right corner. The rest of us will be able to continue the meeting, but we won’t be able to see you any more, and you won’t be able to see us.


If you want to rejoin the meeting, you will have to click the link in Tom’s email again.

How to control what you can see


There are two main views in Zoom:
Speaker View, where you see a large picture of whoever is speaking.


Gallery View, where you see small pictures of everyone.


You can choose which one of these you prefer. Usually, if you are having a group discussion, it is better to use the Gallery view. If you are listening to one person (e.g. the host of the meeting, or if someone is preaching), it is better to use the Speaker view.


The host of the meeting can choose to Spotlight one person – this will make a large picture of that person appear on your screen, and they will stay there until the host turns off the spotlight.


It is also possible to share your screen – this might happen if someone wants to share a picture or video with everyone.

Switching between Speaker View and Gallery View


If you are using a laptop or desktop computer:
Check the top right corner of your screen.

  • When you are seeing Gallery view, it will say Speaker View in the corner. Click on
    this to switch to Speaker View.
  • When you are seeing Speaker view, it will say Gallery View in the corner. Click on
    this to switch to Speaker View.

If you are using an Android tablet:
If you can only see one speaker, swipe left with your finger to see more speakers.
If you want to go back to speaker view, swipe right until you get back to seeing only
one speaker.

If you are using an iPad
The controls are in the top left of the Zoom window. If you can’t see the controls,
tap your screen to make them appear.

  • If you are in Speaker View, click on Switch to
    Gallery View to see lots of people.
  • If you are in Gallery View, click on Switch to Active
    Speaker to see lots of people.

What if I am nervous about appearing on screen…
The first time you use something like zoom, it does feel a bit strange! But you will get more comfortable very quickly.


When you see lots of faces on screen, it can seem as if everyone is looking at you, but really they can see lots of faces too! It’s more like sitting around a big dining table, rather than standing on a stage in front of everyone!


And you won’t be expected to speak if you don’t want to. And, if it makes you feel more
comfortable, you can turn off your microphone or your camera and just watch and listen.

Top tips for Zoom meetings

  • If there is lots of background noise, everyone will be able to hear it. So try to sit somewhere
    quiet (turn off the radio and TV!). Or turn off your microphone.
  • Try to find a place to sit where light will shine on you from the front or side. If you have a bright light behind you, or no light, we won’t be able to see you!

Gareth Leaney


Gareth is a science teacher at a secondary school in Dorset. In a former life he worked with Friends International and UCCF, supporting Christian students and helping the rest to think through big questions about life, the universe and everything.

Published by Nay Dawson

Nay works with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe. She works on the European Regional leadership team for the charity. She was the Revive Extra Plenary Director for one of largest Student Conferences in Europe. Nay is the founder of Passion for Evangelism. PfE is a network of creative, public female speakers. Helping hundereds of women grow in confidence in public communication. Nay set up an initiative called Community in a crisis. CIAC has been helping churches and charities across Europe get online during the pandemic.

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