Tech Lessons Learned from Virtual Church using Zoom Meetings

In light of novel coronavirus/COVID-19, social distancing, and quarantine, we recently assisted our local Unitarian Universalist Church with going virtual with their services. Although we have been remote working for 13+ years, using many video conferencing tools over the years and Zoom in particular since its launch in 2011, we still learned some new tricks and techniques pulling together multiple multi-media resources into the church’s Zoom meetings. Here we’re passing on what we learned—we hope you find it useful!

Please note, many of these principles can be applied to other platforms like GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype or Microsoft Teams, so the content from this post can be repurposed for these platforms too.

Zoom Tips for Presenters

  1. Read our blog post Good Zoomiquette for Attendees. Those tips apply to you too. While you are a presenter, you are also an attendee.
  2. Set up an agenda. This is like any other meeting and meetings run best with agendas. Depending on the size of the group and the type of people attending, be sure to call on all attending the meeting by name at least once. Don’t leave anyone out.
  3. Close any unnecessary programs on your computer, especially those that send notifications—they slow down your computer. And turn off phones. These things can be distracting and possibly even a privacy issue.
  4. Assign a co-host to help with screen sharing and participant management.
  5. Mute everyone upon arrival.
    • Depending on the size of the group and desire for connection allow them to unmute themselves.
    • Always only have one person unmuted at a time since more than one can mangle the sound.
    • Mute late arriving guests.
  6. Decide if you want videos on.
    • Most small groups will probably want videos on since it helps with the feeling of connection, but for very large groups video might be distracting.
    • If videos are on, ensure the spotlight is on the person speaking.
  7. If people are singing or playing music:
    • Turn on “Original Sound”. Original sound is only available with a Pro and up account.
  8. If screen sharing:
    • Check “Share Computer Sound” and “Optimize for Full Screen Video Clip” after clicking the “Share” green button.
    • Make sure everyone is muted, including yourself, unless you’re actually speaking.
    • Use 2 screens (extended, not duplicated).
    • Queue up multimedia pieces in correct format, preferably full screen.
    • If playing a YouTube Video make sure you play any ads ahead of time. Turn off Autoplay.
    • If presenting a PowerPoint queue up presentation in display mode. Pause it. When sharing, use the right end arrow key to start the slideshow. The left home arrow will pause at the beginning of the slide. Keyboard shortcuts at https://support.office.com/en-us/article/use-keyboard-shortcuts-to-deliver-powerpoint-presentations-1524ffce-bd2a-45f4-9a7f-f18b992b93a0.
  9. Use the individual chat feature to communicate among the hosts/co-hosts privately.
  10. If one of the hosts/co-hosts will not be near the Zoom controls because they might be in front of a whiteboard or walking to different parts of the room, consider texting them if you need to communicate with them.
  11. Consider allowing recording rights. This means participants are able to record Zooms and you as the host/co-host don’t need to worry about it.
  12. Be aware of video/audio bombers, particularly in public Zooms or where the link has been widely publicized. They have been known to either share their screens with inappropriate content, flash on video or play inappropriate audio content. Be ready to boot someone out by muting them, preventing them from sharing their screen or even blocking them. Detailed information on this at https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/03/20/keep-the-party-crashers-from-crashing-your-zoom-event/.
  13. You can use WIFI for these meetings, but it’s best to use a wired connection to avoid any streaming lags, if you can
  14. Do a technical dry run before your event.
  15. Need help? Zoom has AMAZING help—check out https://support.zoom.us/ and use the search bar to search for whatever issue you’re having.

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