What is Zoom and how can you use it? 

By
Jamie Riddell

What is Zoom and how can you use it? 

You may have heard a lot of mentions about Zoom over the past week. As the nation’s workforce moves to working from home, Zoom has become the platform of choice for video conference calling. For those of us that may not be up to speed with this new tech, we’ve created a quick guide.


What is Zoom?


Zoom is software that allows you to have video calls or video meetings with two or more participants. It shares similarities with Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts but can be used without an account or contract if the host has an account. 


How much does it cost?


A basic account is free. You can organise and host any number of calls that are 40 minutes or less. On a free account you are limited to 100 participants (the other people on the call.)


Premium accounts start from £11.99 and allow longer calls, up to 24 hours if you have the stamina! £15.99 will let you host with up to 300 participants.  There are additional packages for dedicated webinars and other uses we don’t need to worry about just yet. 


There is also dedicated pricing for further education and healthcare services.  


What do I need to use Zoom?


You need a laptop or desktop computer (Mac or PC) with a video camera and speakers. Alternatively you can download the app for iPhone or Android. We do suggest you have a pair of headphones if you are in a busy office or co-working space.


Visit  https://zoom.us/download to download the software.

As a participant joining someone else’s meeting you can use the browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. 


I have a slow connection, can I still use it?


Zoom recommends you have a connection over 1.5mbps which should be achievable in most parts of the country. Obviously the faster your connection, the better. Audio only zooms are just as easy if you worried about your slower speeds. There is also the option to join by telephone line if you don’t think your system is up to it! 


You can check your current Internet speed here.


Zoom Tips


Check what’s behind you before the video call. Can you find a blank wall or something less distracting?


Think about what you wear? A white wall and a white shirt does not look too good! 


Do you have a backup if your connection gives up? Can you quickly dial in or easily reschedule.


If you are hosting a webinar, make sure you have prepared some notes ahead of time. Write a short prompt for yourself, the beginning of your story, the middle and the end… a security blanket, that will help you stay on topic and sound focused.


Test it all before you go live. Zoom has a handy function to let you test audio and video to ensure you can hear and be a heard before you go live! 


See also: Top 10 Tips For Networking



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