Zoom in the Time of Captivity: 5 Tips for the Perfect Zoom Meeting

By Jean Walcher & Yong-Yi Hu

Zoom: These days, it’s unavoidable, so you must learn to master it. Everyone is using Zoom for meetings, press conferences, social events, Zoomtail parties, virtual lunches and more!

From the last four weeks of using Zoom for all our business needs, this is what we’ve learned:

Rehearse and Don’t Wing It

Practice with internal staff or with a friend. Don’t participate in, or set up your first Zoom meeting without experiencing it firsthand; same goes for speaking engagements and press conferences. Get comfortable with it, and have some general knowledge before you host an important business meeting!

For large business events where you are a featured participant, treat it like a public speaking event in front of a large live audience. Don’t read your notes verbatim. You don’t have to memorize, but you have to be animated and look up from your notes to connect with your audience (or your screen).

Protect It!

There are hackers on the loose. We recently sat in on a virtual press conference with over 100 people on the call, including media. In the Q&A period, a hacker was able to infiltrate it and took over the main screen with a graphic porn video, with sound. It was NOT pretty. So how do you go about protecting your Zoom meetings?

Keep your event private and make sure people can only join with your approval. Instead of sharing the meeting link on social media, get the emails of interested parties by having them email you or by filling out a Google form. That way, you can review the list of prospective attendees and make sure only the people you trust get the link and/or send out personalized links for each attendee – plus, now you have new prospects to add your email list.

Send links as close to the meeting time as possible, so there’s less time for others to share it, and make sure you’re using a per-meeting ID instead of your personal meeting ID. Also, password protect the meeting, and create a waiting room so only hosts can allow people in.

There are a multitude of features that allow hosts to prohibit others from doing things such as screensharing, annotating, using custom backgrounds, chatting privately, transferring files, etc. The host can also mute people, remove participants, lock a meeting so others can’t join and prevent removed participants from rejoining. Assigning a few co-hosts to help control the situation can help as well.

Brand Yourself/Company/Clients

No one wants to see your old curtains or the mess that has become your house by living and working in it 24/7. By clicking on the settings gear icon in the upper right-hand corner (or, if you’re already in a meeting, the ^ arrow to the right of the Start/Stop Video button in the bottom left-hand corner), click on “Virtual Background.” You can then choose from one of Zoom’s preset backgrounds or upload a photo or video of your own. In fact, you can design yourself a custom background with logo or some sort of recognizable branding (see example below), or for more personal uses, a background of the paradise of your dreams (a night out at the movies or fully stocked grocery store, anyone?), and more.

For multiple speakers in different locations, it’s best to have a uniform look, e.g. custom white background with the host logo in the left corner.

That said, for full disclosure, we’re also enjoying seeing clients and other business associates in their homes, and others may feel the same – adds some humanity and personality to our meeting during the new world order 😊.

Dress Up/Make Up

The good news? Like those TV newscasters who never have to get up from their chairs, you only have to look good from the waist up. The bad news? Zoom is a little unforgivable. Comb your hair (it doesn’t even have to be that clean; no one will know!), put a little bit of make-up on and wear something other than an old t-shirt. If it’s a super professional virtual event, then dress the part. (Psst … If you really want help, there’s an option to improve your appearance: settings > video > touch up my appearance.)


For press conferences and other large-style virtual meetings, mute your audience automatically until you’re ready to take questions at the end of the press conference. If it’s a smaller meeting, you should still mute yourself when you’re not speaking. No one needs to hear you click-clacking on your keyboard, or the lawn being mowed outside.

Same goes for the settings for the chat section. For large-scale meetings/speaking, it’s best not to let all participants to idlily chatter in the chat box. It can be distracting for panelists and can get off topic quick (think of Facebook comments during a public live feed). Default to send chat messages just to whomever will be administrating the Zoom and/or to panelists only.

And, just like at regular press conferences, take questions at the end. There are several ways to do this via the Q&A function and hand-raising (best to avoid chat), and you can also allow audio/video questions and/or just written questions. However you decide to do, just be sure to explain it clearly to participants.

Follow these tips and you can ensure you have a perfect Zoomerance, and not a Zoombomb. Best of luck!