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How to ZOOM, and More Safe Events for Greenbelters

posted in: Pandemic
Gallery view of New Deal Cafe’s St. Paddy’s Day Party.

Our beloved New Deal Cafe held a St. Paddy’s Day Party this week – safely and probably just as drunkenly as it would have without the pandemic – using something I’d never heard of before – Zoom. I clicked the link to participate that was posted to Facebook and found something like the view above – Zoom’s “gallery view” of the event – and was at first intimidated. (Even bloggers can be slow to tackle new technology).

So knowing that more and more Greenbelt events will take place on Zoom, let’s figure it out together, with the help of Zoom-savvy Katy Gaughan. She created and hosted the St. Paddy’s Day Party and provided guidance for this post.

Already, the New Deal is hosting another event tonight! The one-hour event starts at 8:00, and at 8:30 Cold Hard Cash musician Rob Petrie will perform! Click for more info.

How to Participate in a Zoom Meeting/Event

How to Join a Meeting video by Zoom 

Just know that Zoom is wildly popular because it’s SO much easier to use than anything else.

Tips for participants

To simply participate, there’s no need to create a Zoom account. (To create/host an event you’ll need to have an account with zoom, of course. And to host an event longer than 40 minutes you’ll need to buy their Pro version at $15/month).

We respond to invitations that we get by email, Facebook, or other links, so the process varies. And we’re using a variety of devices, So far, I’ve had luck with just my laptop for one event and just my iPhone for another. And my desktop is useless.  But it’s generally as easy as click a link someone sends me, then clicking to launch zoom, then clicking to join meeting, join with video, and join with computer microphone.

If you have trouble there’s support from Zoom itself. Their new help for the pandemic looks good and includes user groups. No doubt the users and moderators are more helpful than ever.

Devices and Controls

As a participant, there are just a couple of choices to make.

Pick your device! You can use a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone, but not all devices work equally well, esp if they don’t have built-in mics and cameras.

To mute or not? In most situations, participants will be asked to mute themselves when they’re not speaking, in order to reduce noise for all. The host also has the ability to mute participants. (Muting oneself is considered good “Zoom etiquette.”)

If your connection is slow or garbled, turn off your video and just use audio.

You have a choice of “video layout” between “active speaker view” and “gallery view.”  Most people chose “gallery,” which is the view at the top of this post. Remind you of Hollywood Squares? With “gallery view,” you’ll see small images of all participants and a larger image of the current speaker chosen by the host.

.To leave the meeting or event, click “Leave meeting” in the lower right corner of the Zoom window. If you leave the meeting and want to come back, click on the link again.

To Set up/Host a Zoom Meeting or Event

Hosting an event or meeting yourself is surprisingly easy. There are plenty of tutorials online about creating events with Zoom – check ’em out. The University of Colorado also provides these instructions that seem to be written clearly.

But you may have read about the zoom-bombing that’s going on, where obnoxious teenagers (or others) hack your meeting and post disturbing images to everyone’s screens. Here’s how to prevent that:

  • Don’t post the link to the meeting publicly, like on Facebook.  Email it to participants.
  • Use your host settings to enable the “waiting room” feature. That lets the host decide whether to let someone join the meeting or not.
  • Another important setting is found if you click the arrow next to “share screen.”  Make sure it’s set for “host only.”

If your meeting or event will last longer than 40 minutes, you’ll have to upgrade your Zoom account to Pro for $15/month.

Online Meetings/Events Hosted by Greenbelters

As new online or outdoors-safe events are scheduled in Greenbelt, I’ll post them to the Events page on this website. Here are the ones I know of so far, but we know there will be many more, and I’ll work to keep the list current.

As mentioned above, the New Deal Friday Night Virtual Hangout Featuring Rob Petrie is happening tonight at 8 pm.

The innovative team at the Old Greenbelt Theatre is hosting their new feature “Flick of the Week,” and I love it! Executive Director Caitlin McGrath explains it in this introductory video:


How it works is that we all watch a particularly interesting film selected by the theater via streaming, then join a private Facebook group to discuss it with each other and the knowledgeable OGT staff. It’ll be a learning experience and a chance to connect with other loyal members and patrons of the theater. And just as importantly, at $10 each, these events are an opportunity to contribute to the theater’s greatly reduced income stream, while getting something of value.

And the creative folks at the Greenbelt Museum have launched a fun and educational series #MuseumfromHome on their blog. Receive something from the museum every day via social media – on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct the nonprofit Good Gardening Videos.org.”

  1. Ry Cormin
    | Reply

    Well done Susan! Vital information for these times.

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