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Zoom Video Conferencing: Your Two Biggest Questions Answered

In this Dotto Tech update, we answer the two biggest questions about Zoom video conferencing that our readers have. Find out what they are:

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I’ll be honest: At this point, I can’t give you an exact number if you were to ask me about how many instructional videos we’ve done on Zoom or video conferencing. I feel that we’ve been very thorough about explaining the different features and things you can do with this powerful piece of software.

And while we’re nowhere near done when it comes to sharing best practices and guides for Zoom, there seem to be two specific areas in which people keep hitting a snag. And the funny thing is, we’ve already tackled both of them multiple times – and people still send questions about them.

Thus, we’ve decided to give you a clear, definite, simple, and unambiguous guide that answers the top two questions most DottoTech readers seem to have about video conferencing in Zoom.

 

Zoom Video Conferencing Top Questions

 

The first question that people tend to throw my way on a regular basis is about how to configure Zoom. Specifically, it’s about why they can’t seem to see certain features of Zoom that I talk about in my videos when they’re using the app on their own computers. Some believe that it’s a geography- or location-related issue; others seem to think that I have access to more features simply because I  use the Paid version of Zoom.

The second question I get a lot is how to set up a virtual background. Many even ask about setting up a green screen (which, I have to admit, is a task that I don’t enjoy very much). And again, some users don’t have access to the same dynamic virtual backgrounds I show in my videos; they, too, end up thinking that it’s a paid vs. free issue.

So now, let’s tackle both questions.

 

Question 1: Why can’t I see [insert feature here] in my Zoom settings?

Without an ounce of hyperbole, I’ve gotten infinite variations of this question more times than I can count.

Let’s start by talking about your Zoom account and settings. Here’s a fact: If there are features you’re not seeing, it’s unlikely to be because you’re not using the paid version, and most certainly not because you’re in the “wrong” country.

First: For many people, their first exposure to Zoom is via a meeting invitation. Now, joining a meeting doesn’t require an account. Anyone with the link and the correct password can join a meeting sans account.  And when you’re in that meeting, you can participate just like, well, a normal participant.

That’s not all there is to Zoom, though. So there are two important components to this app that you need to be familiar with: the application itself, which is where the meeting actually takes place, and your account, which is where you can access most of the settings and features. (It’s also what determines if you’re using the free or paid version – but again, don’t let that distract you from understanding why you can’t seem to access certain settings).


When you sign into  your Zoom account via the homepage, you can go to your account settings. This page, which is within your web browser, is where you fiddle with the app’s global settings.

So – why ARE you sometimes unable to see some of the features I showcase in my videos? Is it because you’re not using the paid version?

Well… no. In fact the paid version and the free version are virtually identical with only a handful of differences. 

For starters, all of the features are there, but they aren't always turned on. When you schedule a new meeting, you get access to different options. You can invite participants, add a meeting description, or even mute people upon entry (which is quite useful).


But if you go into your Settings from your account window, it’s kind of like entering Aladdin’s cave. You can customize the Zoom app with a host of features, such as the ability to enable or disable the password requirement before joining a meeting, toggle chat on or off, or even prevent attendees from saving the chat.


You can give people the ability to transfer files and offer files for download, add a co-host, or turn the whiteboard on or off. One feature that’s only available in the paid version, though, is polling (and at this point, I may need to apologize for saying in the past that it was part of the free version. Whoops!) And again, not all of these features are turned on. 


And why is that? I think it’s because of two tools: the Breakout Room and the Remote Support.

The Breakout Room lets you take all of your participants, divide them into smaller working groups for a set period of time, and then bring them back together at the end. Another option you can turn on is remote support, which is extremely useful if you’re providing technical support or teaching someone.

However, you can't have both options turned on at the same time. 

Zoom gives you access to all of the tools in here, but only turns on the basic ones when you set up your account. To customize the app for your own needs, you’ll need to go through the settings yourself.  


(Oh, and we have plenty of videos about that, so go check them out!)

Now, if you go through the Preferences menu within the app itself, you can override some of the settings you previously toggled, while individually dealing with the other small setting you’d like to tweak (or general settings such as dual monitor use). 

Question 2: How do I set up a virtual background and green screen for my Zoom video conference?

Now, let’s move on to virtual backgrounds. Actually, the virtual background and the green screen are kissing cousins, but they aren't the same thing.

And again, some people are seeing limited options for virtual backgrounds and wondering if they should shell out money for the paid version.  And to that, I say: It has nothing to do with whether you’re paying or not, or even your location on the globe.

Basically, it all depends on your computer’s processing power. Simply put, if Zoom has determined that your computer can’t handle a processor hog of a background (like a moving image, for example), then it won’t even show you the option in the first place. Virtual backgrounds, especially the more intricate ones, require a LOT of processing power, after all. 


Fortunately, most computers today can handle the demands of Zoom. but if you don’t get the option to put a video in your background, that’s not because of the app; it’s because your machine simply can’t handle it.

As for the green screen option, it’s similar to the virtual background, but also a little bit different. 

So first, start by turning on the green screen.


Once you've got it set up – and note that it doesn’t literally have to be green – you can proceed with choosing which background you want to use.

You’ll notice that there’s a small dot near the corner of the window that gives you an eyedropper tool of sorts. Click that, and then click on whatever background color you want to be treated as the “green screen.” 


In this case, I used my orange shirt. I click it; in an instant, it becomes a “green screen” that shows the background I select among the available options in Zoom (which again depends on my computer’s capacity).


And that’s it! I’m glad that I got to make this guide, so that hopefully, the next time someone wants to ask either of these two questions, they can find either this blog or the video (which you can view here) and have their questions answered quickly

Now, let me ask YOU a question: Are you ready to level up your skills and eliminate your reservations about technology? If you are, then sign up for our Webinar Wednesdays, a weekly learning opportunity for tech geeks and enthusiasts. Check it out here.

As always, have fun storming the castle!

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