multiple faces on a computer screen for a virtual call

Zoom: Best Practices & How To

AACRAO Coffee Breaks, Webinars, and some components of its virtual meetings are held on the Zoom platform. This page will help you get the most out of your zoom experience.

Zoom Presentation Tutorial

How Tos

  • Prepare for the meeting

    Set up your equipment
    Download the Zoom desktop app and encourage guests to do the same. Decide whether you will use one monitor or two monitors. Get a headset and microphone if you have them, to reduce background noise. Test your audio and video. Review how to share your screen. Close unnecessary tabs in your browser and turn off notifications such as Email or messaging.

    Look your best
    Lighting should come from in front of you or from the side, in order to best light your face. Keep your background clear of distractions. Look at your webcam, not at the screen. Use gestures and mannerisms that you would typically use in person.

  • Participate productively

    Make sure everyone can hear you
    Use a microphone when you speak. Identify yourself to meeting attendees - say your name the first time you begin speaking. Make sure the microphone is on and close enough to pick up your voice, no matter what location you are in. When screensharing, if you are referring to something on the screen, describe where your cursor is going or what it is that you are referring to. Avoid saying "here" or "this" when describing something. Instead, try using more descriptive language: "Notice the box labeled 'sign in' in the upper-left corner of the home page." or "When reviewing the spreadsheet, in column H, row 34..." Identifying what is happening on the screen increases access for everyone attending the meeting.

    Help everyone focus
    Don't have side conversations. If you aren't talking, mute or turn off your microphone. Avoid noisy activities like typing while your microphone is on.

    Reduce Distractions
    Sit or stand somewhere with a neutral background (or use a virtual background). Make sure your camera is on a steady surface to prevent shaking. Turn off your camera if you need to take care of business outside of the meeting (ex. someone in-person needs your attention). Turn the camera back on when you are present in the meeting again.

  • If you are the host

    Secure your Zoom meetings to prevent unwanted guests. Review your host controls and meeting settings ahead of time. Turn on Automatic Transcriptioning. Participants can turn subtitles on or off and review the transcript of the meeting. Share housekeeping details with attendees. Remind them to mute their mics when others are presenting or speaking. Let them know how they can get your attention during the meeting. Will you be checking the chat window? Should they unmute themselves to speak up? Start the recording (or set up automatic recordings). Troubleshoot audio problems if they arise.

Best Practices for Zoom

  • Prepare your (actual) background
    • To achieve the best virtual background effect, Zoom recommends using a high-contrast, solid-color backdrop, preferably a green screen. Whatever you use, go for a matte, non-reflective background.
    • Keep your background surface close to you.
    • Don’t wear clothing that’s the same color as your background or the virtual background.
    • For instructions on how to upload a zoom background, visit the zoom support page.
  • Camera
    • If you are using your computer or phone camera, ensure that it’s unobstructed and smudge-free.
    • Higher quality cameras result in a better virtual background, so ideally you’ll want to use an external webcam.
  • Lighting
    • Try to keep the lighting uniform across your shot (no dappled light) and not too bright or dim.
    • Avoid windows, and be aware that the sun will move during daytime meetings.
    • Positioning a lamp in front of you ensures a more professional look. Better still, invest in an LED Ring Light.
  • Background image
    • Use high-quality, high-resolution images.
    • Zoom recommends using background images with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.
    • Zoom recommends using background videos (MP4 or MOV file) with a minimum resolution of 480 x 360 pixels (360p) and a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p).
    • If your background image includes text, uncheck the ‘mirror my video’ option in your video settings.

Download an AACRAO Background

For instructions on adding a background to zoom, visit the zoom support page.
To download a background:
  • Right click on your preferred imaged
  • Select "Save image as"
  • Save the image in the desired location on your device
Download Free AACRAO Backgrounds