How to host an online event on Zoom

Thanks to the pandemic, most YEW events will be held online this year, predominantly in the form of Zoom meetings. If you have never hosted a Zoom meeting before then this guide will take you through the process. There is also a set of video tutorials on the Zoom website that may be of use to you.

If you are familiar with the basics of Zoom and want some tips on how to hold a successful event, have a look at this guide.

Step 1: Get an account

It’s free to sign up for a Zoom account, which you can use to join and host meetings. However, bear in mind that with the free account, the maximum duration of your meetings will be 40 minutes; any longer and the meeting will automatically end. Given that you will probably need longer than 40 minutes for your YEW event, this is not ideal. Either you will need to sign up for a paid account, or you can contact YEW to discuss borrowing our paid account.

Step 2: Download Zoom

When hosting a Zoom meeting, we strongly recommend using a computer (PC/laptop/Mac) rather than a tablet or mobile phone. This will give you more control over the meeting and allow you to see more of what is happening in the audience. On your computer, download Zoom by going to this page and clicking the “Zoom client for Meetings” download button.

Step 3: Schedule the Zoom meeting

Once you have opened Zoom and logged in, click the “Schedule” button on the main screen:

Choose a name for your meeting and set the date, time and duration. Leave the meeting ID as “Generate Automatically”, and don’t disable the passcode in the Security section (but feel free to change it if you wish).

You may wish to enable the Waiting Room, which means that when guests join your meeting, they will have to wait for you to manually let them in. This can be useful if you want to check names against a list of registered attendees (although people don’t always have the correct name set), or if you want to start the meeting early to get ready with your co-presenters, and don’t want the audience to start arriving yet. Of course, it does also mean that someone will have to take on the job of letting people in.

Normally you would set the Host video to On and the Participant video to Off. This only affects what happens when people first join the meeting; they can manually turn their video on or off after this. However, if you are recording the event then some people may not wish to appear in the recording, in which case it is more polite to leave their video off by default and give them the choice of whether to turn it on.

For audio, it is probably best to set it to “Computer Audio”. If you allow telephone options, it means that people can call a phone number to listen to and speak in your meeting, but they will have no picture. They will also have to pay for the phone call; if you are going to keep this option then at the very least make sure you change the telephone country to the UK! To do this, click the Edit link next to “Dial in from United States”, then tick United Kingdom and un-tick United States.

In the Advanced Options, you may or may not wish to automatically record the meeting as soon as it starts. It is probably safer to do so; this way you won’t forget to press the Record button! If you have your own paid Zoom account, you may wish to record to the cloud, which means the video will be saved on the Zoom website for you to download later. There is a maximum of 1GB video storage though, which is enough for around 2-3 hours of video, so make sure you have cleared out any other videos before you start recording. If using the YEW Zoom account, the cloud storage will probably already be full, so you will have to save locally to your computer’s hard drive instead.

Once you have finished changing the settings, click Save.

Step 4: Share the Zoom link (but not right away)

When you schedule a meeting and click Save, you will be presented with the invite text for your meeting. This is the information you should give to co-hosts and audience members; without it they will not be able to join. To make sure that unwanted people don’t join on the day, you should keep this information secret until shortly before the event – perhaps the day before, or even a few hours before. Do NOT put the details on social media; there have been reports of unwanted people finding these invites on the internet and causing all sorts of trouble in the meetings.

If you have an Eventbrite page for your event then you should connect it to the Zoom meeting. For more details on how to do this, see our Eventbrite guide. Also consider using the Eventbrite email system to automatically email the details to attendees at a set time e.g. 2 hours before the start time.

If you are planning to manually contact attendees near the start time, you can always find the invite details later by going to the Meetings tab in Zoom, clicking on your meeting and then clicking the “Copy Invitation” button, and then pasting them into an email.

Your Zoom event is now set up and ready for the big day. In preparation for this, we highly recommend you have a look at our guide on ensuring your Zoom event runs as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to have a look at the video tutorials on the Zoom website as well.

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