Zoom for Beginners

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a video conference and presentation tool. With Zoom, multiple people call in and communicate at the same time. You can join from your computer, phone, or tablet. You can join the call with just audio or get the full experience with video that shows you what’s on a presenter’s screen and whatever participants’ cameras are showing. If you prefer, you can also turn off your video — so if you are eating dinner or having a bad hair day, or are just not in the mood, others will see just your name on the screen. 

Zoom Offers
  • Video Conferencing with Real-Time Messaging and Content Sharing
  • Joining via Computer or Phone
  • Attendees Appearing in the Meeting through Video or Static Photo
  • Voice Access Only for Dial-in-by Phone participants (No video sharing)

You can watch a 45-second overview video here.

On-line Training Sessions for Zoom

Swing Left Greater Boston’s training team offers frequent interactive training webinars that cover basics but also advanced topics. The hosts offer plenty of time for questions and answers. If you want advanced information after you read this guide or learn better in an interactive setting, the current Zoom training schedule is here.

Joining a Meeting

When a host creates an invitation, Zoom delivers it. The invite provides a URL as well as a dial-in number.

Meeting participants can click on the URL for full access (includes video), and they can do that from their laptop, desktop computer, or connecting to the link from their smartphone.

Participants can instead choose to dial in using the provided phone number. Remember, folks who dialing in using the phone number will not be able to see the video, and if there’s a presentation or shared content, they will not have access to see it or download it from Zoom. 

Attendees receive an invitation like this:

Join Zoom Meeting https://SwingLeft.zoom.us/j/964342283

Meeting ID: 964 342 283

One tap mobile+16699006833,,964342283# US (San Jose)+16468769923,,964342283# US (New York)

Dial by your location+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 964 342 283

The meeting ID at the bottom is your key to getting into the meeting. Sometimes the session requires a password and if so, the invitation includes it.

Getting Ready: Downloading the Zoom Application

We suggest connecting to Zoom at least five minutes before the meeting start time.To prepare, click the URL in the meeting invitation and download a file to launch Zoom. It is super simple to connect, but it does take a minute or two.

Joining using Computer Audio

After you download the file and the Zoom application opens, you will see a box that gives you a choice of joining with Computer Audio through a Phone Call.  If you want to use the computer, click on “Computer Audio”. Then click on “test speaker and microphone”, which enables you to adjust the volume. After that, click on the “Join with Computer Audio” button.

Joining using Phone Call

If you want to join by Phone Call instead of computer audio, click on the phone audio button. A box opens with phone numbers and the meeting ID and your participant number .

Dial the number. Once connected, enter the meeting ID number followed by # . Then enter your participant number again followed by #. The system connects you to the conference audio.

Once you have joined the meeting

When you join the meeting, you will probably be muted. There will be a microphone with a little red line across it at the bottom left of your screen. If you would like to speak, just click on the microphone icon to toggle the sound on or off. All participants should stay muted unless they are speaking. This keeps background noise from interfering with the call.

You can also join with video by clicking on the Start Video button next to your Mute and Unmute button.

You will also see a chat icon on the bottom of your screen. If you click on that icon, you open up a chat sidebar. All participants can post chats either to everyone or to a specific person. This is the most useful way to pose questions and to share information relevant to the discussion, such as pertinent websites.

If you click on Manage Participants you will see a list of all the participants. There you can also post responses such as yes or no, go slower or go faster, thumbs up or thumbs down or clapping hands. Often you will have the ability to ” raise your hand” which puts a raised hand icon on the screen and allows the facilitator of a Zoom call to know that you would like to say something.

Joining a Zoom video conference on your smartphone

You can join a Zoom video conference on your smart phone. First go to your app store and select the Zoom app. It is free.

Once you download the app, your phone will know how to interact with Zoom. When you receive an invitation link to join a Zoom session, click on that link on your phone. It opens the Zoom app and joins you to the session using video through your phone. Zoom offers you a choice of audio: either using Internet Audio or Cellular Audio.

If you have a strong Wi-Fi  connection, use the internet audio. If your connection is not strong, you’ll get better fidelity using Cellular Audio .

Once you have joined the Zoom session, you can swipe to get to different screens.

Useful Zoom resources