How to attend a Zoom meeting

How to Participate in a Zoom Event

How to attend a Zoom meeting

What to wear

First, if you’re going to attend a Zoom meeting, wear pants (or a skirt or something on your bottom that would be appropriate in mixed company). You never know when you might get up without thinking. Trust me on this one.

Dress for the occasion. Is it a happy hour event? Wear something snazzy. A morning coffee? Perhaps something more casual. A celebration or book launch? Dress it up a bit. Try to dress in the spirit of the event so as to create the sort of energy intended by the hostess.

What to do first when you attend a Zoom meeting

1. Change how your name appears to other attendees.

Unless advised otherwise, I suggest putting your first name and location. Such as “Elsie – St. Petersburg, FL” To do this, simply mouseover your own video image, click on the 3 dots in the upper righthand corner and choose “Rename.” A window will pop up allowing you to type your name. Try not to make it too long. As you can see below, often the end is cut off from people’s view.

2. Get comfortable switching between gallery view and speaker view.

Or, if your monitor allows, have both open at once. In the top right corner of the window is an option to switch between them. But if you have one window on gallery view, the speaker view might be open in another window. Play around with it to see what works best.

3. Stay on mute when in main room.

That way your barking dog or crying baby will not interrupt the event. Any time you make a noise, Zoom will want to switch everyone’s attention to you. Don’t be that person! Simply mouse over your video block, click on the three dots and choose “Mute my audio.” (Or “Unmute” if you are attempting to speak at an appropriate time.) The little red microphone with the line through it at the bottom left of your image indicates when you are muted.

4. Find the chat stream.

You can chat to the whole group or to individual attendees. Sometimes the hostess or other attendees will want to post links for everyone to see. The chat stream is where these will end up. With your mouse over the Zoom window, you will see a menu at the bottom. If there are messages in the chat stream, there will be a red number on the chat icon indicating how many unread messages are there. Just click on the icon, and a panel will open on the right side of the Zoom window. The chat stream is a place to interact.

5. See who else is there.

Interested to know who else is participating in this event? What a great idea!

Other things to know

The hostess might ask survey questions. These will appear on the speaker view… Definitely answer them! Participation is what makes it interesting. You can answer them using the “Yes” and “No” options at the bottom of the Participants panel.

The hostess may ask people to “raise their hand” if they have a question. This is done through Zoom, not with your actual hand. This feature is also located at the bottom of the Participants panel. See above image.

If you need to use the bathroom, don’t be like that woman in the viral video. DO NOT bring your phone into the bathroom with the video running. It will traumatize you AND everyone else. If you need to use the loo, simply make sure you’re on mute and turn your video off. While you’re in there, you might want to check for (and remove) any spinach in your teeth. When you return, you can turn your video back on.

Going the extra mile

Are you the kind of person who likes to put that extra special touch on everything you do? Here are some ways to make your Zoom attendance memorable.

  • Make signs. When you’re in the main room, you’ll likely be on mute. Make a few fun signs to hold up that say things like, “Yay!” or “Bravo!” You can hold them up when the speaker is talking to show how engaged you are.
  • Use non-verbal feedback. If the presenter has it enabled, you can “clap” or give a “thumbs up” while people are speaking. This is a subtle way to give positive feedback. You can find these options on the bottom menu under the “Reactions” icon.
  • Change your environment to match the event. If it’s a coffee hour event, drink coffee. Happy hour? Bring your booze. Dance party? Flip on your strobe light. Holidays? Have a string of colored lights behind your desk. Halloween? Wear a mask. As an attendee, you can help contribute to the mood of the event.

Participating in a Zoom Breakout Room

How to act

Be sure to unmute yourself in the breakout room.

Ask questions. Find commonalities. Talk to people the way you would in real life. Be polite. If you make a connection, ask for their contact info and/or offer yours. You can post this info in the chat stream. Be sure to save this info before the room closes because it will disappear once the room is closed.

If you’re in a breakout room and decide to leave, excuse yourself and say goodbye. When the room closes, say goodbye to everyone. Act like you would if you were in a physical room with people.

If you get sent to a breakout room and no one is talking (or no one has their video on), just go back to the main room and your event host can redirect you.


As a participant in a Breakout Room, you have similar capabilities as you would in a regular meeting. These include:

  • Self-select your Breakout Room – You can now select which Breakout Room you would like to join, if the host has enabled this feature. This means meeting participants can move freely between Breakout Rooms without the host having to assign them one. Note: Both the meeting host and participants need to be on Zoom 5.3.0 or later to self-select Breakout Rooms.
  • In-meeting chat – You can also use the chat function within your Breakout Room to message other participants in the room or share links, content, and ideas. 
  • Asking the host a question – This feature is unique to Breakout Rooms, and allows you to contact the host to let them know you have a question. The host can respond immediately by joining the Breakout Room or send a message to participants informing them they will chime in when they become available. 

We can’t wait to meet you!

We’re planning some fun, meaningful online events for you soon, and we want you to feel like you’re ready to attend a Zoom meeting. Until then, please check out the blog for insightful content geared toward you. You can also visit Zoom’s website for more tutorials about using Zoom.