Zoom has been one of the most unavoidable video conference platforms since the first lockdown. In fact it’s been so ubiquitous that there hasn’t been a shortage of memes and other jokes about it!

zoom covid presentation hack memeWhilst most of you reading this might be feel comfortable around the basics of Zoom, there are so many features and aspects of it that you might not have discovered yet. This is because a great deal of them have to be enabled in Zoom’s setting, either in the app, or on the web portal.

In this post I want to share with you 15 Zoom hacks and tips that will enhance your presentations and meetings going forward.

Of course, before you run, you need to know how to walk. So, if you’d like some tips to get the basics of presenting online down, then I recommend downloading my free whitepaper: “The art of an engaging virtual presentation”.

Did I mention that it’s free?

Hack 1: Master your Zoom settings

Ever been in a class that keeps getting interrupted because someone’s microphone is on and they don’t know it? Or discovered a participant got stuck in the waiting room and missed the presentation because they were 10 minutes late? I have!

The good news is that you can avoid all of these problems from the start, just by making sure you set things up to make sense for your specific meeting.

Want to encourage discussion? Have everyone unmuted as a default

Want to present without interruption? Delete the waiting room and ensure everyone is muted by default.

schedule meetings in zoom waiting roomOf course, another option is to have someone else sit in the meeting and take charge of the technical side of things (letting people in, muting participants etc) so you can focus on presenting.

Hack 2: Personalise your waiting room

Unlike real life waiting rooms, you can’t customise a Zoom waiting room, right?


If you’re a pro user, you can customize your waiting room with a personal message and logo. It’s not the same as having inspirational posters and plants of course, but it’s a great opportunity to set the tone for your meeting.

Why not use the space to ask them a question to mull over as they wait?

waiting room zoom presentationHack 3: Take remote control of another person’s screen

Sometimes it’s easier to show than describe. In those situations, you might want to gain remote access to another person’s screen that they’re sharing, or vice versa.

This is a function enabled by Zoom!

remote access desktop zoom

This isn’t something that’ll be necessary in every Zoom call fortunately, but isn’t good to know that the option is there?

Hack 4: Change your virtual background to a personalised one

By now, you’re probably aware that you can change your virtual background in order to hide the chaos of your own home!

Zoom offers a few options: images, videos and video filters (if you want to give yourself an Instagram glow!)

Did you know that, as well as Zoom’s various background suggestions, you can also upload one you’ve created yourself?

virtual background zoom b2b brandingThis can be a great opportunity to offer extra information or brand your presentation. The only thing to bear in mind is: either design your image to be reversed or disable the mirror option in your settings.

mirror video zoom presentationExtra tip: you can create your own background for free on Canva!

Hack 5: Create a whiteboard for brainstorming

Are you missing having a whiteboard in real life to brainstorm on? Zoom has a virtual version!

In order to access it:

  • Click share screen
  • Select “Whiteboard”
  • Share!

You can now share a whiteboard with your audience, and use it to add ideas, or draw up a plan.

Hack 6: enable audience annotations

If you want your team to add annotations to your whiteboard or a shared screen, you need to enable it first!

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Sign in to Zoom on us (not your app)
  2. In the left hand navigation panel, click Account Management then Account Settings.
  3. Scroll down in the Meetings section to verify that Annotation is enabled.
  4. If the setting is disabled, click the toggle to enable it.
  5. As you can see in the screengrab below, you can also edit your whiteboard’s setting here.

annotation whiteboard zoom interactive presentationOnce that’s done, participants can annotate shared screens and whiteboards!

Hack 7: Multi-screen share

More than one participant can screenshare at the same time. This is great if you want to compare different versions of a document for example.

To do this:

  • You need to be the host of your Zoom meeting
  • Click the little arrow next to “Share screen”
  • Select “Multiple participants can share simultaneously”

Hack 8: Breakout rooms for group work

Interaction between participants is something often missing from virtual events.

To this problem, Zoom has a great solution: breakout rooms!

You can create up to fifty breakout rooms and divide your audience into it automatically or manually, so they can work together on a project.

zoom breakout roomsIt’s a great way for them to network and have the opportunity to take an active part in the discussion.

These can also be used as a virtual “green room” for your speakers whilst they wait to present at your main event.

To enable breakout rooms:

  1. Sign in to Zoom on us (not your app)
  2. In the left-hand navigation bar select Account Management then Account Settings.
  3. Navigate to the Breakout Room option on the Meeting tab and verify that the setting is enabled.
  4. If the setting is disabled, click the toggle to enable it.
  5. You can also choose the option to pre-assign participants when scheduling your meeting.

Next time you host a Zoom meeting, you’ll notice a Breakout Rooms button. Click it to set up your breakout rooms, including:

  • Number of rooms
  • Whether you want to assign participants to it manually, automatically or let the participants choose.
  • Additionally, you have other options, such as auto-closing a breakout room after x number of minutes. Going over time is less of an issue this way!

Hack 9: Record meetings for later

Ever wished you could re-watch a great meeting or presentation? It’s really easy to do in Zoom!

Simply press the “Record” button – you might be asked whether to save on your computer or in the cloud. Bear in mind that the Cloud has limited storage, so you might prefer to save locally!

After your meeting has ended, Zoom will convert the file so you can access it.

Hack 10: Record separate audio files for each participant

For better sound quality, you can record each participant’s audio stream as a separate audio file. This is particularly useful if you are recording a podcast on Zoom for example.

To do this:

  • Click Settings
  • Click Recording
  • Enable Record a separate audio file for each participant

Hack 11: Record a transcript

Automatic transcription is possible if you have a Business, Education or Enterprise account on Zoom with cloud recording enabled. If that’s you, then great news!

If you don’t, have no fear, you can create transcripts using third party apps, I’ll share a suggestion further down.

transcription zoom text of discussion

Option 1: transcriptions with Zoom

To enable transcriptions:

  1. Sign in to Zoom on us (not your app)
  2. In the left-hand navigation bar select Account Management then Account Settings.
  3. Navigate to the Cloud recording option on the Recording tab and verify that the setting is enabled.
  4. In the Advanced cloud recording settings, click the Audio transcript checkbox to enable it, then click Save to confirm the change.

Then, to create a transcript, all you’ll need to do is start a cloud recording next time you are in a meeting. After the meeting ends, you’ll receive an email with your transcript. You can download it from the Zoom website under “Recordings”.

Option 2: third party apps

There are various tools that enable you to transcribe videos automatically, saving you considerable time. Options include Sonix, Rev, Otter, and many more…

Of course, as with all automated transcriptions, you’ll need a human eye or two to go over it and catch any errors!

Hack 12: Create live captions

Captions are a great way to make your presentations more accessible to a larger group of people.

Whilst Zoom doesn’t have a live caption feature, it does enable third party apps who do! You can follow here a step by step for enabling this.

In terms of apps, you have a choice, here are some popular options:

  • Otter offers live captions on the Business Plan ($20 a month)
  • Rev also offers live captions ($20 a month)

Both of the above options come with transcripts also, making it easy to turn a meeting into a blog post for example, or to share notes with stakeholders.

Hack 13: Superimpose yourself in front of your slides

Watching slides without seeing the speaker’s face can get quite dull after a while. While there are various display options to avoid that, another option is to immerse yourself in your Powerpoint presentation!

To do this:

  1. Click on the Share Screen button
  2. Go to “Advanced”
  3. Select “Slides as Virtual Background”

You’ll then appear in your Powerpoint or Keynote, where you can present as you would normally.

powerpoint zoom superimpose immersiveHack 14: Background noise suppression:

Is there anything worse than a distracting noise when you’re in the middle of a high-stakes presentation?

The good news is that Zoom has an in-built noise suppression option. (Please note: this only works on desktops, not mobile).

To access it:

  • Go to your desktop app
  • Click “Settings”
  • Select the “Audio” section
  • Select the drop down menu next to “Suppress background noise” to choose the intensity. Auto is the default and will moderate what it can detect. Low will block low levels of noise, Medium eliminates noise such as fans, pens tapping etc. High is the most thorough of all the above and will tackle typing sounds, paper rustling and more.

Hack 15: Allow audience engagement

As I’ve written elsewhere, keeping your virtual audience engaged is absolutely crucial.

There are a couple of features in Zoom which you can use:

  • Turn on non-verbal feedback. This gives your participants the option to communicate through icons (such as yes, go slower etc)
  • Use the chat feature to encourage questions and discussions parallel to the discussion.

You can find more ideas for engagement in this blog post.

Your turn to shine!

Which of these hacks are you going to put to the test? Do let me know on my LinkedIn if it’s been a success!

If you want to take your online presenting skills to the next level, I’ve got some amazing discounts going at the moment on all of my courses. Take a look here!