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Zoom Host Tips and Tricks

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There are many features Zoom has rolled out since MIT initially launched the service, and much we've learned along the way about how to troubleshoot and best utilize its features. The following tips and tricks should help Zoom meeting hosts and their attendees get the most out of their meeting experiences. For comprehensive Zoom documentation and training materials, see the Zoom Landing Page.


Audio in Zoom meetings can be tricky at times. Here are a few tips to help you and your audience have the best experience possible and to troubleshoot common issues.

  • Do a dry run in the location where you will host your meeting with the equipment you plan to use. This can help you debug any issues in advance.
  • Choose a location with minimal background noise. This helps your users and Zoom's live transcription service understand you.
  • If possible, have a backup plan for any device issues. This can be as simple as having additional devices ready or knowing you can switch to you computer's built-in microphone and speakers. It's a lot easier to have a plan in advance than to come up with one on the fly when your devices fail to work properly for any reason.
  • Enunciate as clearly as possible. Your audience will be experiencing your meeting under many different circumstances with varying quality speakers, bandwidth and background noises. Clear enunciation also helps Zoom's live transcription service understand you.
  • If you use any bluetooth devices (microphones, headphones, tablets, additional computers, etc...), turn off bluetooth on any devices you won't be using during your meeting. This prevents the devices you are using from connecting to the wrong device.
  • If your audio/microphone isn't working properly:
    • Check to be sure you haven't accidentally muted yourself in Zoom.
    • Check to be sure your device is turned on.
    • Check to be sure your device isn't muted.
    • Check if any bluetooth devices have connected to a device other than the one you are using for your meeting.
    • Click on the Mute button to pull up a list of options. Change which speaker/microphone you are using. Wait a few seconds and switch it back to your desired one. This will reset the connection and may clear up the problem.

    • From that mute menu, you can also select the Audio Settings option to help you debug the problem. Testing your microphone and speakers can help you understand if Zoom is receiving the signal or if it's some other kind of issue.


You can mute all guests in your meeting from the participants window. To open it, click on the Participants button in your toolbar.

From there you have many options to control the meeting audio.

  • Mute All: This mutes all participants in the meeting except the host. This is useful when you want silence from the audience to enable one person to present. 
  • Mute All Upon Entry: All participants are muted when they initially join the meeting. 
  • Allow Participants to: Unmute Themselves: If enabled, once muted, participants can unmute themselves to join the conversation. This is best for smaller meetings and group discussions where you want to avoid extraneous background noise, not prevent others from speaking. If disabled, only the host can unmute users so they can speak. This is best for presentations or lectures where only one person is speaking and you prefer to avoid distractions like background noise.


To get the best quality experience with video there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Ensure you have a high bandwidth connection.
  • Manage your bandwidth to ensure other devices on your network aren't hogging the very resource you need to hold your meeting.
  • Choose a location without a busy/distracting background. Screen savers, digital photo frames, pets, windows with a view of busy streets and other such locations can cause meeting participants to pay attention to them, and can sometimes cause distracting digital artifacts.
  • Test your lighting in advance. It's best to have your light sources in front of you. Being backlit (light behind you) puts you in shadow and meeting participants will not be able to see you clearly.

Pinning and Organizing Participants

You can choose how you and the meeting participants view the meeting by organizing and pinning the participants video.

Active Speaker View

The speaker is the primary large video and participants are shown in a smaller row of videos at the top (or not at all on mobile and tablets). As host, you can pin yourself or others as the active speaker to always appear in the primary location for all participants. You can also pin multiple people at once, and they will both appear larger and in the main portion of the screen. Otherwise the most recent person to speak will appear there.

To pin or unpin somebody, hover over their image and click the ... to open the menu of options.

This menu varies depending on the options available based on if the user or other users are pinned.

  • Pin - When there are no pinned users, this option lets you pin a user to the Active Speaker position.
  • Add Pin - This adds an additional pin to an existing one creating two or more active speakers.
  • Replace Pin - This replaces the active speaker with the new active speaker you have selected.
  • Remove Pin - This removes the participant's pin and they will no longer appear in the active speaker position unless they are speaking and nobody else is pinned.

Gallery View

In this view participants are displayed in a grid of images. You can control who appears at the top for all participants by pinning them there. You can also control how the gallery appears to you by dragging any participant's video to the position where you want it to appear. Dragging and dropping only affects your view. It does not change participants views, only pinning does. The active speaker appears with the a yellow box around their video to help you follow the conversation.

You can switch between Active Speaker and Gallery views using the View menu. It is seen here at the top left, but may appear elsewhere on tablets or mobile devices.

Live Transcription and Closed Captioning

Live Transcription Zoom provides an AI-powered (machine) live transcription service for all paid customers, including MIT. This feature is visible to all meeting hosts by default. To enable live transcription, click the CC button on your meeting toolbar to enable it.

Live Captioning There are limitations to Zoom’s live transcripts given they're AI powered and it can become confused by things like accents, background noise and regional idioms. If someone has requested captioning as a disability-related accommodation, you will need to engage a professional service provider to do live captioning.

MIT’s Disability and Accessibility Services office provides a list of resources and vendors (Touchstone Authentication Required) hosts can use for transcribing and captioning videos.

Screen Sharing

By default, anybody can share their screen in a Zoom meeting. You can change this setting in a few ways to avoid any undesired screen sharing or enable multiple people to share their screen at once.

  • Click the Share Screen button to open the menu.
  • From here you can enable multiple people to share their screen at once, however that can make the screen very busy and is not generally recommended, especially if participants may be on mobile devices, tablets or have small screens.
  • Who can share?
    • Only Host - No participants can share, but co-hosts can. You can designate any participant as a co-host from the participants screen. You can also remove that designation once it's given from the same menu at any time.
    • All Participants - The default setting. All meeting participants are able to share their screens.
  • Who can start sharing when someone else is sharing?
    • Only Host - Only the host can interrupt somebody else's screen sharing and substitute their own.
    • All Participants - The default setting. Any meeting participant can interrupt somebody else's screen sharing and substitute their own. 


There are two main polling options offered by IS&T for use with zoom meetings, Poll Anywhere and Polling in Zoom.

Poll Anywhere is a separate app from Zoom. There are more options for types of polls (multiple choice, and free answer). The polls can outlast or occur after the meeting allowing post-meeting feedback or knowledge checks. They also have options for reporting and grading polls. They are best set up in advance and sent live during or immediately after your Zoom meeting.

  • Poll Anywhere can be used to create more advanced polls and ones that can outlast the meeting. However Poll Anywhere polls

Zoom Polling consists of simple, multiple choice polls that are sent live in the zoom app during the meeting. They pop up and demand to be answered immediately. You can include more than one question in a single poll. They can be created in advance of your meeting or during it, however you will have to leave the meeting to go to a web interface to create your poll. Generally it is best to set up your polls in advance.

If you want to send multiple questions live at different points in time during your meeting, you need to create them as separate polls. All questions created within a single poll will be sent live at the same time.

Additional Resources

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

July 14, 2024

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