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Zoom 101: Tips and Tricks to Help You Teach and Learn Online

March 27, 2020

If you haven’t jumped into a Zoom video meeting yet, consider yourself lucky. Some of us have been stuck in a Zoom Wonderland of sorts, falling into video conference tunnels with barking dogs, crying children, and lots of people saying, “Can you hear me now?” Many people have had to learn Zoom basics the hard way—by getting thrown into Zoom meetings before we ever learned how to press mute! For the uninitiated, we offer a how-to guide that will hopefully make your Zoom video conferences more successful. You’re welcome.

How to Join a Meeting 

Open the Zoom desktop app.

Sign in to Zoom using your CU Denver credentials, then click Join a Meeting. Enter the meeting ID number and your display name. If you’re signed in, your default name will be used. 

Select if you would like to connect audio and/or video and click Join.

Schedule a Meeting

Open your Zoom app and sign in.

Click on the Schedule icon. In the next window, you’ll select your meeting settings, including date, time, video/audio, and the option for a password. 

Click Schedule to finish and add the meeting to your Outlook calendar or copy and paste the link to send to participants. 


The Zoom window has a handful of helpful tools at the bottom of the screen.

  • Join Audio” turns your microphone on. The video symbol to the right lets you turn your video camera on or off. If you click the small arrow beside it, you’ll see the option “Choose your virtual background.” Click to upload a photo from your desktop that will take up the background of your screen. Try one of our new Milo backgrounds.
  • The “Invite” icon lets you invite your coworkers or students to the chat. The person you select will be sent an email with instructions to join.
  • The “Share” icon lets you share your screen or access a white board function that your participants can see in real time.
  • The “Chat” icon opens up a messenger function that allows you and other participants to send text back and forth.
  • Click the “Record” icon to record the meeting. The recording will upload to your computer as an MP4 file.

Raise Your Hand in a Webinar

If you’re in a webinar with many people, using the raise your hand feature can help avoid talking over one another.

To do this, click on the icon labeled “Participants” at the bottom of your screen. You’ll see your name on this list. At the bottom of the window on the right side of the screen, click the button labeled “Raise Hand.” This will alert the group that you’d like to speak by adding a blue hand to your box.

When you’re finished speaking, don’t forget to click “Lower Hand.”

Mute is Your Friend!

When you’re in a meeting, if you scroll over your face you’ll see an option in the bottom left corner to “Mute.” This feature also lives in the bottom left corner of your screen. You’ll want to use this, especially in large meetings, so that people can’t hear you talking to your spouse, or your dogs barking, or the ding of your email or Microsoft Teams. To unmute, simply press the same button in either place.

Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms” allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions, according to Zoom’s website. This can be helpful for something like a professor’s open hours. The meeting host can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually, and can switch between sessions at any time.

If you’re a host, make sure the feature is enabled. Click Account Management and then Account Settings. Go to the Breakout Room option on the Meeting tab and make sure the breakout room setting is enabled. Here you can also click a checkbox to allow meeting hosts to pre-assign participants to breakout rooms.

You can create up to 50 breakout rooms, and the maximum number of participants in a single breakout room depends on the meeting capacity and number of breakout rooms created. Breakout room participants have full audio, video, and screen share capabilities.

If the meeting is being cloud recorded (this is automatically enabled by clicking the record button at the bottom of the screen), it will only record the main room, regardless of what room the meeting host is in. If local recording is being used, it will record the room the participant who is recording is in. Multiple participants can record, so students and faculty can refer back to a meeting. Need more help? View the tutorial video below.


Last but not least, a fun tip! Open the Zoom app, click your initials / icon in the upper right corner. Click Settings and then click Video in the left hand column. Make sure the option “Touch up my appearance” is checked.

It’s a real feature, and it’s 100% worth it!