The Ultimate Zoom Guide for Participants in 2021 - Jan Keck (2024)


. . . a walkthrough for ALL of the options you’ll find on the bottom of your Zoom screen. A little something extra, we like to call the . . . “ZOOM SIGHTSEEING TOUR“!

Mute/Unmute ?

It’s a good idea to stay muted, to minimize background noise. Especially if it’s garbage collection day, police choppers are flushing out an escaped felon, or little Billy has a new bicycle horn. Thanks for keeping the cacophony to yourself.

Sometimes it makes sense to UNmute, however. For instance – if the presenter is leading a lively, group discussion or you are interacting with a small group in a breakout room. Or after the speaker busts out a joke or humorous anecdote – please unmute and laugh, even just a little snicker. There is nothing more awkward than dead air. (Well, YES there certainly is, but we are staying on task here.)

Pro Tip: Should you want to quickly unmute yourself to interject a brief, spontaneous nugget, simply press the spacebar and hold while speaking. Releasing the spacebar automatically mutes you again.

Video On/Off ?

Do your presenter a solid and leave your video ON as much as possible. Spare them the lonesome task of speaking into the faceless void – they really DO want to connect with YOU. Plus, it helps you connect with your fellow participants.

Turn your video OFF, however, if you need to run to the restroom or refill your drink, or if there is something you don’t want others to see. (For instance, your nudist housemate needs more guacamole from the fridge. It happens.)

Participants ?

Click “Participants” and a panel of options will appear in a bar on the right side of your screen. This is where you can see the list of attendees and change things like your name.

Pro Tip: If you are in “Full Screen” this bar will pop up in the middle of your screen. You can drag it out of the way, but save yourself some hassle and exit “Full Screen” before clicking on “Participants.”

Rename Yourself ✏️

Do you really want to be addressed as “MacBook 34SL9” or “John’s iPhone” for the duration of the event? True, it’s got a certain ring to it . . . but NO, the answer is no, you do not. Your facilitator and fellow participants would like to use your warm and fuzzy human name to greet you, especially in breakout rooms.

  • Click on “Participants” and find your name. Hover to the right of your name, click the blue “More” button, and then choose “Rename.”
  • Or hover over the right corner of your thumbnail image. Click on the three dots and choose “Rename.”

In addition to your name, you can also add pronouns and your location here.

Pro Tip: To change your name for EVERY session BEFORE you join a Zoom meeting, check out this great tutorial by Robbie Samuels on changing your screenname in your Zoom Profile.

Chat ?

You’ve probably already used this – a LOT! (Good job staying engaged and connected!)

Click to open the “Chat” window on the right side of your screen and choose who you would like to send a message to – either “Everyone” or someone in particular (unless this option has been disabled by the host).

  • To send a message to everyone: click on the blue drop-down menu and choose “Everyone.” (This is the default setting.)
  • To send a private message: Click the blue drop-down menu again and click on the name of the person you are sending the message to. This is great if you want to let the host or cohosts know “Hey, I can’t see the slides!” or “The sound is a bit buzzy.” Or to connect with a fellow participant to share sensitive info, like email address, phone number, or astrological sign. Pssssst: It’s kind of like passing secret notes in class – just don’t get caught by the teacher!

BEWARE!: If you are sending both public and private messages, be careful to double-check WHO you are about to send a message to, before hitting the Return key. This is fertile “ooopsy!” territory.

Reactions ?

Here you’ll find an entire array of emojis for nonverbal communication.When you click on an emoji, it shows up in the top left corner of your thumbnail image for 10 seconds. (The exceptions to this rule: the “Raise Hand” emoji remains until the “Lower Hand” emoji has been clicked, and the “Yes/No,” “Slower/Faster” emojis remain until they are clicked again.)

Sharing emojis is a great way to interact with the facilitator and other participants. Go ahead and click “applause” for a job well-done, post a “heart” to share the love, or indicate your surprise with the “Wow!” face.

Craving MORE information on the Reactions options? We just happen to have an entire blog and video tutorial dedicated to your curiosity.

Raise Hand ?

If you’ve got a burning question to ask during a Q & A session, click “Raise Hand” which is also nested under the “Reactions” button. It’s not quite as satisfying as thrusting your arm high into the air (Ooooh, ooooooh, pick me!), but it gets the job done.

Leave Meeting ?

If at any time you need to “pull the ripcord” to leave, you’ll find this option tucked away in the bottom far right corner of your screen.

Things come up – the batteries in ALL of your smoke detectors expire simultaneously and commence squealing in unison, your child staggers in with a bloody appendage, or that 12 cheese habanero burrito remarkably isn’t sitting too well. We get it, life happens. If possible, just let the host know, via “Chat”, that you need to leave.

NOTE: You actually have to click twice to leave the meeting. First, to initiate leaving, and then to confirm “YES, the previous click was NOT in error – I really, truly, quite sincerely and with great confidence want to leave!” (This 2-step plan makes it more difficult to leave accidentally, which is a very good thing!)


The Ultimate Zoom Guide for Participants in 2021 - Jan Keck (7)

In addition to taking you on a narrated Zoom Sightseeing Tour, we also provide you with your very own printable Zoom Cheatsheeta visual summary with captions for all of the buttons on Zoom Meetings. It’s a handy dandy event companion and guide for Zoom participants!

Download Your PDF here

That’s it for the buttons on the bottom of your screen. But wait, there are three more essential sights on our grand Zoom Sightseeing Tour . . . (I hope you wore sensible footwear!)

When a presenter is sharing slides ?

How the heck am I supposed to read this detailed slide?!

When the presenter is sharing a slide, sometimes you might want the slide to take up most of the screen, if there are a lot of details to see. Other times, you might want to shrink the slide down and see more of the presenter or other participants.

In between the slides and the presenter, there is a double vertical line “handle” that you can use to drag and resize the two sections of your screen until it’s just right. Yay for screen customization options!

Speaker View vs. Gallery View ?

Hey, where did everybody go?!

In the upper right-hand corner of your screen is a “View” button. Use this to toggle between “Speaker” View and “Gallery” View.

  • When in “Speaker” View, you see the person who is talking. Usually, the presenter, or someone who is asking a question, occupies most of the screen, while everyone else appears in small thumbnail windows, along the top.
  • In “Gallery” View, everyone appears in a grid, with thumbnail windows all the same size, a la The Brady Bunch. (If you are ancient enough to get that reference!) When engaging in a fun activity with the entire group, this is definitely the view of choice, so you can see everyone!
  • Remember to switch back to “Speaker” View, when it’s time to focus on the presenter again.

Annotations ✍️

This is a cool feature where you can draw, write and annotate on the presenter’s slides via Zoom’s shared whiteboard. If the host has enabled annotations, here’s how to access them and play along!

  1. When the host is sharing their screen, click on “View Options” (in the upper right corner next to “You are viewing PRESENTER’S screen”)
  2. Select “Annotate” from the drop-down menu
  3. Then a toolbar appears, displaying all manner of fun and creative options.

Now that you are navigating the screen like a champ, it’s time to bust out some advanced mojo . . .

The Ultimate Zoom Guide for Participants in 2021 - Jan Keck (2024)


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