Advanced Zoom Hosting

Once you’ve mastered hosting a basic meeting, you can start adding in more skills, like spotlighting, breakout rooms, co-hosts, and polling.


In gallery view, you can see as many people as fit on your screen. The person who is talking has a yellow box around them. In speaker view, the screen shows one big image of whoever is talking now. (Or coughing, or laughing loudly…) Sometimes though, you want to keep the spotlight on a speaker even if other people are making noise. To do this, go to the participants list, mouse over their name, and where it says more, choose “spotlight”. (Note: Spotlighting is different than “pinning” a video – any participant can do this, and it just pins one person into their main view no matter who is talking but it only affects THEIR own personal view of the screen. When the host spotlights, it affects what everyone sees.)

Breakout Rooms

In a large meeting, you can create smaller “breakout rooms” which are Zoom meetings nested inside the main meeting. Just go to your command bar at the bottom of the screen, and choose the breakout rooms icon – the square with the grid on it:

It will let you decide how many rooms to set up, and whether to randomly assign people or manually. When you’re ready, “open the rooms”, and each participant will get an invitation to join a breakout room. When you’re ready, close the breakout rooms, and they’ll all return to the main meeting. Note: there’s LOTS more info about how to assign people to breakout rooms, how to move them around to different rooms, how you can monitor rooms and more at


If you’re running a complex meeting, you may want to have an extra person (or people) serve as a tech assistant. I have worked many church services where we have: a moderator who spotlights and mutes people and sets up the breakout rooms, a projectionist who handles sharing PowerPoints and videos, someone to do closed captioning,  someone to lead music, and an usher who lets people in from the waiting room. To make this work, when your team members arrive at the meeting, mouse over their name in the participant list, choose more, and make them a co-host. Co-hosts can do all these tasks, except only the host can manage breakout rooms.

Scripts. If you’ve got this complex multi-host meeting going on, it’s REALLY helpful to have a shared script, which may be ALL the words written out, or it may just have the cues for how one person will end their segment and who they’ll hand off to next. We do a shared script on google drive so we can all edit our own parts, but we’re using the same shared document, and we color code for each person’s role.

Understanding the participant list

Sometimes in a large meeting, it’s hard to find who you’re looking for in the participant list. FYI, here’s how the list is generally sorted. Host first, co-hosts who are unmuted come next, in alphabetical order. Then co-hosts who are muted, A – Z, then participants who “have their hands” raised A-Z, then participants who are unmuted A-Z, then participants who are muted, A-Z. But that means when someone un-mutes themselves or raises or unraises their hands, they move around in the list. If I’m running a big 100+ person meeting, and I have four or five speakers I’ll need to be able to spotlight during the meeting, I either make them co-hosts, or I have them rename themselves with an asterisk in front of their name. That moves them to the top of an alphabetical list.

Claim Host

Sometimes you may be asked to serve as a host for a meeting someone else set up. If they have the meeting set up as “enable join before host”, then you (and everyone else) can just jump into the meeting at any time. You can do most of what you need just as a participant. But if you need to share screens (and that’s not enabled) or you need to set up breakout rooms, you can “claim host” IF they have given you the six digit code to do so. In the meeting, you would go to the participant list, click on the three dots at the bottom. Choose Claim Host, and type in the host key.


You can run single votes or multiple choice polls during a meeting. You can use these for actual business, like taking a vote, or you could use them as agenda setting where you asked people to mark their highest priority topics for a discussion. Or you can also use them for fun – with silly polls as icebreakers.

When you schedule a meeting, on the meeting management page, scroll to the bottom to find the poll option and click “add” to begin creating the poll. (If you don’t see the polling option, you’ll need to make sure you have polling enabled for your account. Learn how.) Enter your title, questions, and answers. Save for later. (Note: you can also create polls during a meeting, just by clicking on polls on your command bar, but I prefer to create mine in advance.)

During the meeting: Click on “polls” in the command bar, select the poll you want, and click launch poll – it will pop up on all your participants’ screens. As they enter their responses, the host and co-hosts will be able to see them live. When you want to stop, choose End Poll. Then, if you want to, you can click on “share results” and your participants will see the results. (Learn more about Zoom polling.)


You can assign someone to create closed captions.

Learn More

To learn how to use Zoom, or to help your group members learn how to use Zoom, check out the other articles in my Zoom Guide.

  • Hosting a Meeting (starting a meeting, inviting people, scheduling a meeting, security issues to reduce Zoom bombings, muting, recording, and the basics of sharing screens)
  • Advanced Meeting Management (spotlight, breakout rooms, co-hosts)
  • Sharing Screens on Zoom (how to share PowerPoint slides, videos, documents, the whiteboard, etc.)
  • Optimizing PowerPoint for use on Zoom – you can place all the audio, video, and images you need all in one PowerPoint to help your meetings go more smoothly.
  • Games and Interaction on Zoom – lots of ideas from charades to Pictionary to polls and quizzes and
  • Music on Zoom: playing recordings, live music or leading songs
  • Young Children and Zoom – tips for how to help teachers and grandparents connect with kids online and how to help children connect with others – includes lots of suggested interactive activities
  • Screen “hygiene” for prolonged use – reduce Zoom fatigue