It’s been a few weeks since we collectively began to “shelter in place.” Working from home has become the newfound reality for many lawyers, and many of you are likely in the process of trying to determine how to work remotely both effectively and efficiently.
As you put systems in place to facilitate practicing law virtually, video conferencing has undoubtedly become a central part of your remote workflow arsenal. And if videoconferencing is new to you, you’re probably using Zoom, which is arguably the most popular platform for video meetings, since it’s both affordable and user-friendly.
Because so many people are using Zoom these days, I figured it was high time I shared a Zoom primer. So without further ado, here’s what you need to know to Zoom like an expert.
First, the basics. If you’re going to use a mobile device, make sure to download the Zoom app. Then, whether you’re using your mobile device or computer, log onto Zoom by either clicking the meeting link provided to you, or go to www.zoom.com, click on “join meeting” (on the upper righthand side of the page), and then enter the meeting number, which is included in the Zoom meeting information you received via email or otherwise. From there, follow the onscreen instructions to open up the video meeting on your laptop or smartphone.
Second, in the name of all that’s holy, use your mute button! Mute yourself by clicking the microphone on the bottom lefthand side of your screen once you log on and then, whenever you’re not speaking, make sure you’re muted. I cannot stress this enough! Otherwise, everyone will hear your dog barking and each time it barks, your face will pop up on the main screen instead of the face of the person who’s actually speaking. Note that if you want to unmute yourself for a very quick comment (rather than a long soliloquy), instead of clicking on the microphone you can also hold down the space bar (which will unmute you) and say your piece. Then release the space bar when you’re done talking, and you’ll automatically be muted again.
Third, take a deep dive into the “meeting settings.” By doing so, you’ll have more control over your videoconferences, ensuring that your Zoom meetings occur without a hitch. When you schedule a meeting, make sure to familiarize yourself with the various settings, including those located under “advanced settings.” There are options there that allow you to set a password for the meeting, restrict access only to users who have signed in, and “mute participants upon entry.”
Fourth, take advantage of the settings that allow you manage participants once the meeting has started. They can be accessed by clicking on “Manage Participants” (once the meeting has begun) in the middle of the bottom of your Zoom screen. Some settings are immediately visible and if you click on “More” there are even … well … more. Using these settings you can mute all participants, lock the meeting to prevent new participants from joining, and choose whether to allow participants to unmute themselves or rename themselves.
Fifth, up your Zoom background game. It’s easy to change your Zoom background and hide all the dirty clothes piled up behind you on your couch. First, search Google for desktop wallpaper or Zoom background images, and download a few that you really like to your computer. Once a meeting has started: 1) click on the up arrow located next to “Stop Video” in the left hand corner of the toolbar at the bottom of your Zoom screen, 2) click on “Choose Virtual Background” from the pop-up menu, and 3) click on the plus sign (+) located in the middle of the “Settings” screen on the right side and upload your chosen images from your computer. There you have it! A customized Zoom background!
Finally, for those days when you’re having a hard time pulling yourself together for a video call, there’s the “Touch Up My Appearance Setting.” Once you activate it, it provides a soft focus – something we could all use after weeks of being cooped up inside with our families! To turn it on, once a meeting has started: 1) click on that same up arrow located mentioned above located next to “Stop Video,” 2) choose “Video Settings” from the menu, 3) check the “Touch Up My Appearance” option located under the “My Video” section. And, voilà! You look like a million bucks!
Now that you’re armed with my top Zoom tips, what are you waiting for? Set up a video call and put them into action. In no time flat you’ll be Zooming like a pro!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase legal practice management software. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for Above the Law, ABA Journal, and The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. She is an ABA Legal Rebel, and is listed on the Fastcase 50 and ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.