Zoom Meeting Participation Tips

29 March 2020

Are you joining in on any of our Tuesday Zoom Check-in Sessions or on a Member Facilitated Zoom Session?

Here are some Zoom Meeting Participation Tips from me, Margaret Sims, Leah Hudson and Donna Thistlethwaite to help you if you are new to Zoom or simply want to refresh your memory.


Logging In to the Zoom Meeting (Tip courtesy of Leah Hudson)

If you are in an area where your Internet connection is patchy or you are far away from your Wi-Fi modem, Leah suggests you tether your tablet, laptop or computer to your phone rather than using your home Wi-Fi.

You may find that this gives a clearer connection so that everyone can hear everything you say when you speak up. Most of us have plenty of download data.


Headphones or No Headphones

Up to you.

Depends on where you are, how personal and private the Zoom Meeting conversations are and what outside noises are around you. If you want to clearly hear every word spoken, headphones are a better option.

There is always the ‘Mute/Unmute’ option as a way to block out outside noise. See ‘Joining the Conversation’ below.


Bringing up Your Face on the Screen

So you have logged in.

The Host of the Zoom Session should have set it so that everyone’s video (ie your face in front of your PC, laptop, tablet or phone) comes up automatically.

If your picture is not visible and all you can see is this black screen with your name on it.

No worries.

Go down to the bottom left of the Zoom screen. This is what you will see – a red diagonal line through the ‘Start Video’ icon.

The red diagonal line means that the video of your face and background is turned off.

Now left click on that ‘Start Video’ icon and it will change to the ‘Stop Video’ icon on the right.

Now your picture will appear instead of the black screen. See my sample below.

Depending on where you are sitting, your background may be a blank wall as in my picture, a neat or messy office or anywhere you choose to be. If you would prefer a better background or for others not to see where you are, you can change your background.


Changing your Background

Go back down to the bottom left of your screen.

Click the up arrow beside the ‘Stop Video’ icon.

Click ‘Choose a Virtual Background’.



This screen pops up.

You will find four backgrounds loaded by Zoom.

Click on the picture you want.

To save your background, click the ‘X’ at the top right-hand of this small screen.

Until you change it, this background will appear every time you log into a Zoom Meeting.


Don’t Like Any of the Backgrounds

Click ‘None’ and you will go back to the background of where you are sitting now.


Adding Your Own Background Picture

Here are a few backgrounds I experimented with today to give you some ideas.

Preparation –

Prepare some pictures beforehand in a named Folder that is easy for you to find on your computer.

Background Picture Size

  • Background pictures are best created using the Zoom 16:9 ratio.
  • You may use your own photos from your camera, any graphics you own or free graphics from Pixabay, Pexels or Unsplash. (Please do not take pictures that you have no legal right to use.)
  • Use the calculator function to divide the width by 16 and multiply your answer by 9 to see if your height fits this ideal proportion. Near enough is good enough. Zoom will adjust your background if the numbers are close; otherwise it will adjust the height to fit the 16:9 ratio.
  • Alternatively you can create a template that is 1920 x 1080 in Canva, Picmonkey or your preferred graphics program. Then upload your photo. Fit it to this size and save. I did this with bottom right background of a rhododendron.

Background Tips –

  • Choose simple backgrounds so that your profile stands out.
  • Choose colours that make you look your best.
  • You can use the ‘transparency’ feature in your graphics program to make the background picture softer. I did with the pink rhododendron background in Canva.
  • If you don’t like the image, click ‘Remove’ and it’s gone.
  • You can upload a number of images and change them, depending on what you are wearing. (This is my Image Consultant mind being creative.)

Note that the picture on the Zoom screen comes out horizontally reversed to the way the picture is when you upload it. No idea why the program flips the background picture.

This makes background pictures with words on them come out back-to-front. There is a way to physically type your business name so that it comes out correctly on the bottom right of your background image. It is a bit complicated. If you really want to do it, contact me through any of the links at the bottom of this post and we will discuss it.

Uploading Your Pictures if you DO NOT have a Zoom Account –

After you have logged in to the meeting, follow the instructions above to get to the Settings pop-up screen.

Click ‘Add Image’.

Find your folder where you have saved your special images and add them one by one.

Some may not work. Click ‘Remove’ to delete them.

Click on the one that works best for you.

To save your background, click the ‘X’ at the top right-hand of this small screen.

Until you change it, this background will appear every time you log into a Zoom Meeting.

Uploading Your Pictures if you have a Zoom Account –

You can follow the instructions above or do it either before or after the meeting as I did.

  • Log in to your Zoom account.
  • The simplest way is to click the down arrow beside ‘Host a Meeting ’(in blue letters) at the top right of your screen.
  • Click ‘ctrl’ and ‘With Video On’ to open your meeting for one (ie you) in a new tab.
  • Follow the instructions above to add your own backgrounds.
  • Then click ‘End Meeting’.
  • On the pop-up screen, click ‘End Meeting for All’ and close the pop-up screen.
  • Close that Tab and you can go back to the original Zoom Tab and log out of the program.

Changed Your Mind about All of Them

Click ‘Remove’ to delete the images one by one.

Click ‘None’ and you will go back to the background of where you are sitting now.


Background Reversal Tip (courtesy of Gary Somerville)

Note that the background picture on the Zoom screen comes out mirror-reversed (ie horizontally reversed) to the way the picture is when you upload it. This is Zoom’s automatic setting.

To change this to a normal view, go down to the bottom left of your screen. Click the up arrow beside the ‘Stop Video’ icon. Click ‘Choose a Virtual Background’.

On the left of this screen click ‘General’. Then click ‘Video’. This screen on the left will appear.

Go to the right and under ‘My Video’ unclick the second one down ‘Enable mirror effect’. This will bring your picture back to normal.


A Useful Tip

If you decide that you need to get up from your seat to get a drink or do something else, I suggest you set your participation back to the black screen on the left.

After all, you do not want everyone to see you in your trackie daks, pjs, some embarrassing view or other people creeping in and out.

Do this by going down to the bottom left of your screen and clicking the ‘Stop Video’ icon.

This black screen above, with your name in it, will appear.

When you want to be fully visible again, click the ‘Start Video’ icon.


Changing Your Name – (Tip courtesy of Donna Thistlethwaite)

If your photo comes up with your email or your first name only and you want your full name there, right click on your photo and type in your name.




Joining the Conversation

Sometimes the Host will set the Meeting so that he/she mutes everyone and only unmutes you when he/she allows you into the conversation.

Hills Chamber Check-in Meetings give everyone the right to ‘Mute’ or ‘Unmute’ yourself.

Unless you are speaking it is advisable to mute yourself. After all, you do not want everyone to hear your tummy rumbling, the dog barking, someone coming into the room to talk to you or your mobile phone ringing. Do this by clicking the ‘Mute’ icon at the bottom left of the screen.

Your participant picture will show whether you are muted or unmuted.

Mute = Red arrow through microphone icon. No-one will hear you speak, nor will they hear any of your background noise.

Unmuted = Clear microphone symbol. Everyone will hear your background noise. You can also join the conversation and everyone will hear you speak.


Using the Chat Feature –

Use this feature when you want to add a comment, ask a question, add a helpful tip or website or say ‘Thank You’ before you leave the Zoom Meeting.

Find this symbol at the bottom of your screen.

Click the icon to open the ‘Chat ‘ area on the right of your screen.


If you are first, this box will come up at the bottom of the Chat area. If others have commented before you, the box will come up under the last comment.

Press ‘enter’ so that everyone can see your comment.

You can do a private chat to someone by clicking the down arrow beside the word ‘Everyone’ and a list of names will come up.

Click on the person’s name and type your private message to them. Press ‘enter’.

To join the general conversation again, click the down arrow besides the person’s name and click ‘Everyone’.

To Add a File in the Chat Area

If you have something valuable to share with the group eg an image, a graphic or a file, right click on ‘File’ and this dropdown box will appear.

Find your file and upload it.


To Download a File from the Chat Area

If you wish to download a file that someone has added to the Chat area, right click the word ‘Download’ and save it.




To close the ‘Chat’ area, simply click the down arrow at the top and click ‘Close’.



To Leave the Meeting

Find the words ‘Leave the Meeting’ in green writing close to the bottom right of the screen.

Click it and you are out of the meeting.

Close any Zoom screens that are open.



Congratulations. You are now a Zoom Meeting Participant Professional.

Margaret Sims

Margaret Sims is a Business Casual Dressing Expert at Stylish Baby Boomers

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