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Zoom Tips, Security & Privacy

As the Zoom videoconferencing platform has grown by about 30x during this pandemic, it has naturally come under more intense scrutiny. The church is monitoring reports and updates about Zoom's security and privacy, but at this time we still believe that it is the easiest and best on-road to online community that we can currently offer our congregation. Read more for tips on how to best start using Zoom to connect to online events at the church and a blog post from Zoom about the recent security and privacy concerns.

A Few Tips for Using Zoom
1. If possible, let your first foray into Zoom be on a computer. The bigger screen will let you see all participants at once, and let you see all the controls easily. The Zoom mobile apps are great, but it helps if you know what all Zoom will do, so that you already know to look for the controls on the phone or tablet. On a smartphone or tablet, tap the screen when in a Zoom call to bring up controls for Zoom. On a computer, you may have to move your mouse to the bottom of the window to make the controls show up.

2. Feel free to sign on a little early to make sure you’ve got things worked out. If you get a message that another meeting is in progress, it simply means that the event before yours hasn’t quite wrapped up yet. So just be patient.

3. If you move your mouse to the bottom left corner of the Zoom window, you will see audio and video controls (a microphone and a camera icon). You can toggle your microphone or camera on or off with those buttons. The arrows next to those icons give you more options related to sound and video. Similar icons can be found in the mobile apps by tapping the screen.

4. Be considerate of other people and mute your audio when you are not speaking. In smaller gatherings this is less important, but even then, side conversations, barking dogs, etc. can be very distracting. Likewise, you can also turn off your camera if the video on your end could be distracting to others, such as when you have to step away from the computer for a moment.

5. You can set the name shown to others before logging on. If you wish to change the name shown to others after the meeting is started, right click on your own image and select Rename. On mobile devices, you will have to tap the screen and click the Participants icon. Then you can tap your name in the participants list and choose Rename from the menu that pops up.

6. Make sure you click the “Leave” button at the end. If you just go to another app (particularly on a mobile device), you may still be connected and sending audio and video!

7. Show everyone your smiling face! We know not everyone has done their hair or even been in the shower before logging onto Zoom, but it makes it easier for everyone if we can see your face and read the unspoken cues we all unconsciously use to direct a conversation.

8. All Zoom meetings have a password. If you were emailed a link, the password is probably embedded in the link and you do not need to type it in. Passwords are emailed but not posted on the website or social media. Please contact the organizer of your event if you do not know the password for your meeting.

9. At the top right of the computer interface you can change your video between “Gallery” and “Speaker”. The Gallery view is generally easier for people, since you can see all participants at once and pay attention to social cues you normally do in a conversation. The Speaker view can be handy if you are part of a class and you want to focus your attention on the presenter. If you are on a mobile device with a small screen, you can still swipe sideways on the screen to change views. In the Speaker view, you can lock any participant in the main window by right clicking on their small video window.

10. Can't get a word in edgewise? Try the chat function. It is great for interjecting useful information without interrupting the conversation. It is also handy to send a message in private chat to someone without disturbing everyone else. Just remember that all chat, including private chat, is logged and can be accessed by the account administrators.

11. The links for different events are different to make sure you end up in the right place each time. So the link for the Weekly Prayer Time won’t work for Tom’s Bible Study, for instance. So make sure you have the link for your particular meeting or event.

12. Logging on to a Zoom meeting with two devices in the same room is generally not a good idea. As audio from the two devices will cause feedback and echoes. If you must log on with two devices in the same room, make sure that only one microphone and one speaker is turned on. Mute the microphone in Zoom and turn down the volume on the other device(s) that you will not use for audio.

13. Don’t sweat it if the technology gives you trouble! We’ve all been there, and there others around who want to help!

Zoom's April 1 blog post addressing privacy and security issues that have been in the news: