Building Your Zoom Skills

OK, so you’ve gotten past the basics of participating in a Zoom meeting, and you want to learn more. You can try any of these new skills on a call you’re on with friendly folks, or you can do a test meeting – just go to, and choose “host a meeting” and you can be in a meeting all by yourself to test things out.

Note: You’ll notice several times I say “you MAY see.” That’s because Zoom displays a little differently depending on what device you’re on (PC, Mac, Chrome book, iPhone…) and on what settings your meeting host has enabled and on whether or not you have the most current update. So sometimes you just won’t have an option that I describe here. Use Zoom’s support guides for more information.

Adjust who you see – Gallery and Speaker View

In the top right corner of your screen, you’ll see a toggle button which you can click on to go between gallery view and speaker view. (On a mobile device, swipe right for gallery view of some participants – keep swiping right to see more participants. Swipe left to see speaker view.)

When you see images of several meeting participants, that’s called gallery view. The person speaking will have a yellow box around them.

gallery view

In speaker view, you see one large picture of the speaker.

speaker view

In speaker view, whenever someone new starts speaking (or coughs loudly or has a dog barking in the background), the screen will switch to them. In some meetings, the moderator will “spotlight” the main speaker so they stay highlighted in speaker view even if other people are talking. (You can always switch your view back to gallery view by clicking on the words “gallery view” at the top.)

If you want to keep the camera on one particular person, you can “pin” their video – mouse over their picture – three dots appear in top right corner – choose pin. This only affects your screen, no one else’s.

On a mobile device, gallery view will only show 4 people at a time. Some laptop screens will show 25. If you have a large screen and good processing speed, you can see up to 49 participants at once. If there are more people in the meeting than you can see, then move your mouse to the center of the screen on the right edge and a white arrow will appear – click there to see more people. On a mobile device, swipe right.

In gallery view, you can arrange people how you want – just click on their picture and drag them where you want them on your screen. This only affects your screen, but I find it’s helpful for things like remembering who has had a turn to speak.

Adjusting View during Screen Share

When someone is sharing their screen, on the left hand side, you’ll see a large image of their slides, and the speaker (and maybe a few participants’ images) on the right or across the top). You can adjust your screen so you can see more participants. Move your mouse cursor to be in the area between the shared screen and participant pictures – you’ll see a gray vertical line. In the center of that line, you’ll see two white lines. Click on that to move it till the screen is divided as you wish between the shared slides and the participants.


If you don’t see that line between, then go up to the top of the screen near the green button and choose view options, choose “side-by-side” and then you should be able to adjust as I’ve described, then decide whether you want speaker view or gallery view on the right.

side by side

divide gallery

Communicating Your Reactions

  • You might see a “reactions” option in the command bar. Click on this and you’ll see a thumbs up or clapping hands appear on your image. Some meetings will have additional reactions set up.
  •  Click on the participants list. At the bottom, there will be icons, and three dots you can click for more icons. You may just be able to choose simple things like raise hand, but you may also be able to choose yes, no, like, don’t like, go faster, etc.

Share Screen

Generally you won’t do this in a meeting you’re attending. I cover the basics in Hosting a Basic Zoom meeting, and have more details in the post on PowerPoints on Zoom.

Change your Display Name

At the top right of your image, you may see three dots. Click on those, and it will give you options, including “rename”. Click on that and type in the display name you want. Or: open the participants’ list. Mouse over your name, and it may display options to rename.

Chat – beyond the basics

If you go to the command bar and click on chat (the cartoon word bubble), then it may pop open in the right hand sidebar. If you’ve got the participants list up, it will be the top half of the sidebar and the chat will be the bottom half. I often have a hard time reading long chats in this small format. In the chat window, next to the word chat, you’ll see a down arrow. Click there, and choose “pop out” and it will make chat a separate window that you can then maximize to fill the screen. When you want to make it small and return it to its original location, then look for the three dots near the bottom of the chat window – click there, and choose “merge to meeting window.”

Some meetings will disable chat. Some will only allow you to chat with the meeting host. Some allow you to chat to everyone. Some allow you to also send private messages to one individual that no one else can see. After you’ve typed a chat, but before you send it, make sure you’re sending it to the person you mean to send it to!

You can save the chat… in the chat box, there’s three dots – click there and choose save. It will save it on your computer – in my case, it created a folder in my documents called Zoom, then creates a folder for the meeting and the chat is in there.

Tips: if you paste a link in the chat, then people can click on it to go to that website. You can also click on the word “file” in chat and it will let you send a file to everyone from your computer, google drive or one drive. (If the host has enabled that.)

Updating your Zoom

Zoom is continually adding new features and trying to make improvements. I encourage you to check for updates once a month or so to make sure you’re running the most current version with all the best features.

To do that, open the app. On a windows computer, you can click on the windows button to bring up your list of apps and then choose zoom (it’s near the bottom of the alphabetical list, or you can type “zoom” in the box at the bottom left where it says “type here to search”, then open zoom.) It will look like this:

zoom app

Click on your picture (or your initials) at the top right. Choose “check for updates”. If there are any, it will say “update available” and then download them. Then you’ll click on “update” to install.

Learn More

To learn how to use more advanced skills in Zoom, check out the other articles in my Zoom Guide. Here’s some to start with:

  • Looking and Sounding Good on Zoom: finding a better internet signal so your calls don’t freeze, ways to improve your audio and video quality
  • Hosting a Meeting (starting a meeting, inviting people, scheduling a meeting, security issues, muting, recording, and the basics of sharing screens)