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Virtual Platforms – Zoom

By Nqaba Mpofu

Zoom is a video conferencing and hosting platform used to host work that takes place in the collective space. It allows people to connect and interact virtually when face-to-face meetings are not possible.

Zoom is user-friendly because it allows integrating with a few plugins, which makes for a seamless experience. It also allows us to work together with relatively low data usage. Zoom replaces the face-to-face venue and is our virtual meeting space. There are also other functionalities that are packed in Zoom, which can make your experience a much more engaged and interactive one.

At IPK, we use Zoom in a variety of ways. Whether it be for an in-house project, or for a client, we are always open to improving our use of the platform and sharing the learning we make with you.

Since Zoom is cloud-based, it needs a stable internet connection to work optimally. If you’re conducting a business meeting with more than a handful of people, we advise that you dial in before the scheduled time to do a sound and video check. Not many people are familiar with how to navigate Zoom, so a few minutes spent doing a sound-check will help those participating, especially if it’s their first time, feel more comfortable.

A walk-through of the meeting window in Zoom within the first 20 minutes of your meeting also goes a long way. In this walk-through you can tell your meeting attendees how to manage the toolbar. The toolbar allows you to do the following:

Mute: Control your own audio output.

Start Video: Control your video output.

Invite: Use this advanced option if you want to invite users other than your site participants to participate in the meeting.

Manage Participants: Opens a pop-up window listing all participants. From this window you can:

  • mute participants
  • disable video
  • prevent other participants from sharing their screens
  • lock the meeting so no new participants can enter

Share Screen: Share your full desktop or specific windows. Starting Screen Share minimizes the main meeting window and highlights the window you are sharing (if you’re sharing a window and not the desktop). You can stop sharing at any time by clicking Stop Share.

Chat: Communicate with all participants or to send messages to specific participants by clicking on their name in the participants list.

Record: Clicking Record starts recording for the session. Recordings are stored locally on your computer in the folder set in Settings -> Recording. Participants will not be able to record sessions without the host’s permission. If a participant does record the session, the recording will be stored locally on the participant’s computer.

We recommend that when you admit people into the meeting, you setup that they enter the meeting with their audio muted. You can do this in the settings, when you schedule your meeting. This ensures that those entering the meeting, even if they are late or are re-joining the meeting after a disconnection (yes, it happens) do not disturb the meeting, and their re-entry is seamless.

It can happen that the connection is not stable either the sound or video, or both, is distorted. One simple way to overcome this is to disable your video. This frees up more bandwidth for you.

Zoom is a great platform for engaging teams, for any subgroup work, e.g. thematic, country- or sector-specific subgroup work sessions. Zoom has a handy feature where you can create breakout rooms, thereby allowing you to maximise what you can do with those you’re meeting with. These are virtual rooms where people can meet and talk to each other as they would in a real breakout room during a conference or seminar. You can use this feature to brainstorm, to refine or elaborate ideas in more detail – all dependent on what you’re trying to achieve.

Breakout rooms allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions. When creating them, take note to enable breakout rooms. Zoom allows you to pre-assign participants to breakout rooms when you schedule the meeting instead of managing them during the meeting. In breakout rooms, participants have full audio, video, and screen share capabilities.

Zoom has various subscription plans. The free plan, which is the most basic allows you only 40 minutes of video conferencing and up to 100 participants. For more details on the pricing, simply visit the Zoom website here:

If you are hosting a meeting that will run longer than 2 hours, we recommend that you factor in a break for your attendees. This short break will allow people to stretch and relax their eyes from being fixed to a screen. And you can even play music while the break is on. Encourage your attendees to really take a break, like they would if it was a face-to-face meeting. Health and wellbeing considerations are even more important when working in the virtual realm!

We hope these user tips and tricks are useful to you – don’t hesitate to contact us on or directly on WhatsApp +27676087464 if you’d like more guidance on how to make this platform work for you.

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