Zoom: Basics for Student Success

In this article, you will learn nine basic skills to help participate successfully in live Zoom sessions by watching a tutorial video, reading step-by-step instructions, or downloading a free & printable Quick Reference Guide.


Video Tutorial:

In this video, I explain nine basic skills that every participant should know for a successful live Zoom session. You can find step-by-step instructions and a free, printable quick reference guide below.


Step-By-Step Instructions:

Here are nine basic skills that everyone should know in order to participate successfully in live Zoom sessions. Click a link below to jump to a specific skill or scroll down to see them all.

  1. Turn your microphone and camera on and off.

  2. Change Zoom "view" options.

  3. Open and use the Chat feature.

  4. Open & view the Participant panel.

  5. Share a file through the chat window.

  6. Communicate using Reactions.

  7. Share your screen.

  8. Troubleshoot audio & video problems.

  9. Annotate on a whiteboard or shared screen.


1. Turn your microphone and camera on and off.

The buttons to turn your microphone and camera on or off are located at the bottom left hand side of the screen. Click on the camera icon or the microphone icon to turn them on or off as shown in the pictures below. When they are turned "off" there will be a red line through the icon.







2. Change Zoom "view" options.

Locate the "View" button found at the top right corner of your screen as shown in the picture below. Click on it.

A box will drop down with different "view" options as shown in the picture below. These view choices change what you see on your screen. "Speaker" view shows only who is currently speaking in the meeting. "Gallery" view shows the meeting participants in small squares, even those who are not currently speaking.

3. Open and use the Chat feature.

Open the "chat" feature by clicking the "Chat" button at the bottom of your screen as shown in the picture below. The chat will open on the right side of your screen or in a separate pop-up window if you are in fullscreen mode.

You can type and send a message from the bottom of the chat feature where it says "Type message here..." as shown in the picture below. Depending on the meeting settings, you can send a message to everyone or just one person.

4. Open and view the Participants panel.

Open the "participants panel" by clicking on the participants icon located at the bottom of your screen as shown in the picture below.

The participants panel will open on the right side of the screen on top of the chat feature as pictured below. This panel will show you who else is in the meeting with you, who has their camera on, and who has their microphone on.

5. Share a file through the chat window.

You can share a file with other meeting participants by clicking the "File" button found on the bottom right corner of the chat window as shown in the picture below.

A box with options will pop up above the "File" button as pictured below. You can choose to share a file from one of these places.


Note - If you choose to share a file from another account such as Google Drive, you will have to follow the steps to connect your Google account to your Zoom account if you haven't already done so before choosing a file.


Depending on the meeting settings, you can send a file to everyone or just one person. To choose a specific person, click where it says "everyone" and pick a person from the drop down menu before sending a file (pictured below).

6. Communicate using Reactions.

The "Reactions" button is located on the bottom of your screen (circled in the picture below). A selection of nonverbal reactions will pop up when you click on the button. You can use a reaction to communicate an emotion, a reaction, or to raise your hand.

7. Share your screen.

If your meeting host or teacher asks you to "share your screen" you can do so by locating and clicking on the "Share Screen" button (pictured below) which will show up on the bottom of your screen if it is enabled by the meeting host. You will then have to choose if you want to share your entire screen, a whiteboard, or just one application, such as a PowerPoint, that is already open on your computer.

8. Troubleshoot audio & video problems.

If you are having trouble hearing or being heard, you can test your speaker and microphone by clicking the small arrow next to the "mute" button on the bottom left corner of your screen and choosing "Test Speaker & Microphone" (pictured below).

Similarly, you can change your camera and video settings by clicking the arrow next to the "Video" button on the bottom left corner of your screen (pictured below).

9. Annotate on a whiteboard or shared screen.

If your meeting host or teacher asks you to "annotate" on a shared screen or whiteboard, you can open your annotations toolbar by clicking on "View Options" on the top of your screen as shown in the picture below.

A box will drop down with different options. Select "annotate" as shown in the picture below to open your Zoom annotations toolbar.

Your annotations toolbar will appear at the top of your screen as pictured below. You can write, circle, draw, or even save a picture of the screen.

Downloadable & Printable Quick Reference Guide

Click here for a free printable "Zoom: Basics for Students Quick Reference Guide." This guide gives step-by-step visual directions on nine skills every Zoom participant should know for a successful live session.


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