This document contains recommended practices for using Zoom for events with large numbers of participants, possibly over more than one day, and where participants can be split into breakout rooms for further discussion.
Example Event Type
This document assumes an event similar to the following:
The event is two days, from 9am-5pm each day with plenty of breaks scheduled. Some sessions are optional to attend.
There are 100 adult participants.
There are 20 children participants who will be in a separate children’s program.
There are many volunteer support staff making the event run smoothly, including:
There are 4 committee members who helped plan and create the event. They monitor how things are going, watch the schedule, and handle any event problems that arise.
There is an MC to make announcements.
There are 2 large group facilitators (LGF) who lead plenary sessions in the main Zoom room.
There are 16 small group facilitators (SGF). These people lead breakout groups.
There are 3 speakers who lead optional sessions. These happen during breaks or when the main program is over. Not everyone will attend these sessions.
There are 4 children’s class teachers.
Different people at various times may want to share their screen to show documents, presentations, or videos.
There are 3 people we’ll call Zoom managers. These people need to be comfortable with
computers and technology. They assign people to breakout groups, troubleshoot sound/video problems, and resolve other technical issues that arise. This document is most useful to Zoom managers.
Zoom provides free accounts, but to get all features, especially hosting large groups, a paid account is preferable. For the example event, two Zoom accounts are used. One account/ID to be used for the adult program and one for the children’s program.
To have the most flexibility, use Zoom instant meetings (not scheduled meetings) with a Personal Meeting ID (PMI). The PMI number can be customized to make it easier to remember. The plan for the event is to have all participants join the meeting, which puts them in the main room, then a speaker begins the event and discusses a topic. People are then put into breakout rooms with a facilitator to discuss the topic in more depth. When the breakouts are done, everyone returns to the main room.
Zoom Account Profile
Some Zoom settings can be a little obscure, but can be quite useful for making large meetings run smoothly. This and the following sections are the preferred way to setup Zoom accounts for large events.
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Look at the options along the left side of the screen. Underneath the Personal heading, click Profile (shown in blue below).
Follow these steps to configure the Personal Meeting settings.
- Click Edit to the right of Personal Meeting ID.
- Choose a Personal Meeting ID that is easy to remember or is relevant to the event. Zoom IDs are
usually 10 digits of the form 123-123-1234, but the numbers can be grouped however is most convenient. For example, an ID of 9518441863 could be shared with people as 95-1844-1863. If more than one Zoom account is needed, choose two IDs that are similar, e.g. 95-1844-1863 and 96-1844-1863.
- Check the “Use Personal Meeting ID for instant meetings” box.
- Click Save Changes.
- Click Show next to the https URL. This is the “one-click” URL for the Personal Meeting. The passcode is embedded, so users can click this URL and not have to enter the passcode. Note: If the passcode is changed, this URL also changes.
Zoom Personal Meeting Room
After logging into https://zoom.us, look at the options along the left side of the screen. Underneath the Personal heading, click Meetings (shown in blue below) then click Personal Meeting Room along the top (underlined in blue)
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Note: Some of the settings in this section are identical to those discussed in other sections.
To change values, scroll to the bottom of this page and click Edit this Meeting.
Personal Meeting ID
Choose a Personal Meeting ID that is easy to remember or is relevant to the event.
Check the Passcode box and choose a value that participants might remember easily.
Uncheck “Waiting Room” so the host won’t have to manually let participants join.
Turn off for Host.
Turn off for Participant.
Check “Enable join before host.”
Check “Mute participants upon entry.”
Uncheck “Only authenticated users can join.”
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Uncheck “Record the meeting automatically.”
Zoom Account Settings
The settings will be shown in the main area of the screen under sub-headings. Useful descriptions describe the purpose of each setting.
Look at the options along the left side of the screen. Underneath the Personal heading, click Settings (shown in blue below).
Turn off “Waiting Room” so the host won’t have to manually let participants join.
Turn on “Require a passcode for Personal Meeting ID (PMI).”
Then select “All meetings using PMI.”
Click the pencil next to Passcode and choose a value that participants might remember easily.
Turn on “Embed passcode in invite link for one-click join.” This will make joining a meeting simpler.
Turn on “Require passcode for participants joining by phone.” Schedule Meeting
Turn on “Host video.”
Turn on “Join before host.”
Turn on “Enable Personal Meeting ID”.
Turn on “Use Personal Meeting ID (PMI) when starting an instant meeting”.
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In Meeting (Basic)
Turn on “Chat.”
Turn on “Private chat.”
Turn on “Sound notification when someone joins or leaves.”
Then select “Host and co-hosts only.”
Turn on “Co-host.”
Turn on “Polling” to allow surveys to be created.
Turn on “Screen sharing.”
Then select “All Participants” for the first option and “Host Only” for the second.
Turn on “Allow participants to rename themselves.”
In Meeting (Advanced)
Turn on “Breakout room.”
Turn off “When attendees join meeting before host.”
Turn off “When a meeting is cancelled.”
Turn off “When an alternative host is set or removed from a meeting.”
Turn off “When someone scheduled a meeting for a host.”
Turn off “When the cloud recording is going to be permanently deleted from trash.”
This document is not meant to be a complete user manual for Zoom, but some features relevant to large events are discussed below.
The Zoom menu bar will have the Breakout Rooms icon (on the right) when breakout rooms are enabled.
There can only be one host in a Zoom meeting. This is the only role with full control over breakout rooms. A Zoom master (ZM) should be the Host. During a long event with multiple ZMs, the ZMs will likely switch who is the host at different times. Once someone gives up the host role they become a regular participant. So, the new host should immediately make that person a co-host. There can be multiple co-hosts. This role allows renaming participants, moving themselves between breakout rooms, and some other abilities. All other ZMs should be co-hosts. Probably all other event
organizers, facilitators, etc. should also be co-hosts. This will allow them to mute participants if needed.
When people join a Zoom meeting they can choose their screen name, like “Jackie Smith.” If someone only connects through a phone number, then their phone number is shown as their name. Screen names become very important when using breakout rooms because a room number can be added to the name, e.g. “3 Jackie Smith.” This number tells the Zoom masters where the participant goes.
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In a Zoom meeting, click the Manage Participants icon to see the host and co-hosts sorted to the top of the list. The Participants window is also a great location to rename, mute/unmute, or make someone a host/co-host. This list can also be used to see if everyone has been renamed to include a room number.
Chat and Broadcast Messages
The chat feature of Zoom allows people to share information with everyone or specific people. During discussions, people might want to use chat to share links to related material. People can only chat with others in the same room they are located, so people in different breakout rooms can’t chat. Related to chat is the host’s ability to broadcast messages to all breakout rooms. This is done from the Breakout Rooms window. A broadcast message appears at the top of everyone’s screen for a short period
of time before disappearing.
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Anytime an overhead projector or white board would have been used in a face-to-face meeting, a screen share can serve a similar purpose. At the beginning of events, showing the schedule might be useful.
When a host first clicks the Breakout Rooms icon, the create screen is shown. Automatically assigning participants won’t be useful, because then multiple facilitators could end up in the same room. So manually should be chosen. It can be useful to have a couple extra breakout rooms. If someone has technical difficulties, a ZM can join the person there to work on the issue. If facilitated groups finish early and people want to socialize, they could be put into a spare room. So, if 8 rooms are needed for facilitated groups, consider creating 10-12.
After Create Rooms is clicked, the Breakout Rooms – Not Started window is shown with a list of all participants on the right side. Imagine there are 100+ names in the checkbox list. This is why putting a room number in front of people’s name is useful. At this point the host can select everyone for room 1 and assign them, room 2, etc. Assigning people to rooms can be done at any time. At this point the rooms have not been created. The first time rooms are to be used, the host will click Open All Rooms.
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Each participant will see an invitation like the below. Participants can never be forced to go to a room. They have to accept the invitation. If they click Later, the invitation disappears. They need to click the Breakout Rooms icon to see the invitation again.
Once the rooms are opened, if the host clicks the Breakout Rooms icon they see the Breakout Rooms – In Progress window. If new participants join the meeting, they have to be added to rooms slightly differently. Click the Join link next to the room and choose the person to add. Once someone is assigned to a room, they stay assigned to that room unless the Move To option is used. When moved they get a new invitation to join. The Close All Rooms button will close the rooms.
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While in breakout rooms people can click the Leave button to return to the main room.
If the event has optional sessions after the main talks are complete, then breakout rooms can be used again. Since the sessions are optional, there should be many fewer people in the meeting. The ZM or MC can simply ask who wants to attend which session. Perhaps people can raise their hand. The ZM then assigns those people to the appropriate breakout room.
People can join Zoom by dialing a phone number. To keep things simple, it’s recommended to provide participants with just two numbers:
Also inform participants that they can mute/unmute using *6.
Here are some general guidelines for Zoom managers (ZM):
ZMs should have a way to communicate with each other outside the event, e.g. through text messages. If there are problems, this is how to communicate with other ZMs.
The event organizers, speakers, and facilitators should have something like a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other during the event. The ZMs probably don’t want to be part of this group because there will be a lot of non-technical traffic that ZMs just need to ignore.
The event organizers, speakers, and facilitators need a way to communicate with the ZMs. This could be via texts or a WhatsApp group. This is useful if a facilitator is in a breakout room and needs help, like with screen sharing.
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There should always be one ZM in the main meeting room. If participants are in breakout rooms, the main room is empty. If a late arrival joins the meeting, they join into the main room. The ZM is like the greeter or registrar at a convention, they direct people to the right breakout room.
Tasks Before Event
Here are tasks the Zoom managers (ZM) should handle before the event begins:
Review the “behind the scenes” schedule of the event. This schedule should indicate when breakout rooms are used, when main sessions occur, etc. There should be a column indicating which ZM will be the Host at which times.
Before the event or during general announcements people should be encouraged to use their real name when joining zoom. This will make determining their breakout room easier.
Make sure facilitators and other key people know how to use Zoom reasonably well. If they are made co-hosts, they can do all these activities. In particular they should be able to:
Mute/unmute participants (co-hosts only).
How to move between breakout rooms (co-hosts only). They can leave back to the main room then click Breakout Rooms. Then they can choose to join a different room.
Know the difference between leaving the meeting and leaving a breakout room.
Share their screen. Make sure if sharing videos the “Use computer Audio” box is checked.
Sometimes people share screens and black/gray rectangles cover up portions of the screen. This seems to be when other apps are on top of the Zoom window.
When sharing be sure to scroll or page down as the material is being read.
Create Short URLs
Get the “one-click” Zoom URLs that contain embedded passcodes (see the Zoom Account Profile
section). The URL will look something like this:
Create shortened URLs of these one-click paths. For example, tinyurl.com could be used to make the URL look like:
This shortened URL is what can be shared with invitees.
Create a Rename Spreadsheet
Create a shared spreadsheet that lists all event participants. There should be columns for:
The person’s name
Their role. Normal participants can be blank. Zoom Masters can be ZM, large group facilitators
LGF, small group facilitators SGF, committee members CM.
Their facilitated group number (aka breakout room number). People allowed to visit any room can be left blank.
If known, include any phone numbers for the person. If someone calls into Zoom, their phone number is used as their screen name.
This spreadsheet will be used to rename attendees.
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Tasks During Event
Here are tasks the Zoom managers (ZM) and should handle during the event:
Begin renaming people as soon as possible. See steps below.
It’s recommended to keep people signed into the meeting even over meal breaks, so they won’t have to be renamed again. It is also useful to tell people to remember their screen name, so they can rename themselves the second day.
When facilitated sessions are finished, people can just leave the breakout room to go back to the main room. If necessary, the rooms can all be closed.
Make facilitators and other key people co-hosts so they have access to more features.
Note: Co-hosts can hear the chime sound when people enter or leave the meeting. If a person is talking (like the MC), and they are a co-host, and people are joining the meeting, then the chime sounds might be audible to all participants. So choose the best times to give people the co-host role.
A ZM or other person can video record sessions as desired.
If a participant is disruptive, they can be removed from the meeting by the host or co-host. Choose the Remove action by the participant’s name.
Hosts and co-hosts can also mute participants if their audio is disrupting the meeting. This is sometimes necessary when participants forget to mute themselves and their environment becomes noisy.
This rename process can be time-consuming for large groups, so starting quickly is useful. Encourage people to join the meeting early or schedule an optional “welcome” session so renaming can begin for those people before the main group arrives.
As soon as the event begins, the ZMs should start renaming participants so they can easily be put into the correct breakout room later. Put the group number in front of their name then their role if applicable. If multiple people are using the same device, try to include all their names.
Some examples are:
3 Josiah Phillips
7 Eli & Carol Williams
7 SGF Ming Xian
ZM Lisa Pond
LGF Kwame Keita
The basic process to rename people
- Each ZM clicks the Participant List icon.
- Scroll through the list looking for anyone who doesn’t have a number assigned. Most, but not all,
unassigned people will be at the bottom.
- Each ZM just chooses someone to work on. Sometimes ZMs will choose the same person, but this
doesn’t happen often.
- Open the shared spreadsheet and search for the person’s name or phone number. If a person can’t
be found, private Chat them to ask what name they were registered under. They might also be
recognizable by looking at their video.
- Rename them with their group number, optional role, and descriptive name.
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Here are some issues that will likely happen during the event.
Some people will join late, sometimes after people are in breakout rooms. This is why the host ZM should always be in the main room.
Some people who didn’t register at all will join because friends gave them the Zoom information. If these people are allowed to attend, they should be added to the Rename Spreadsheet.
People will forget to mute their device and background noise will be heard. A host or co-host can mute them.
People will have technical issues, like their device crashes or there is feedback from their speakers. A ZM may need to call them or go into a breakout room with them.
Some people will connect with multiple devices at the same time, e.g. a tablet and a laptop. They probably need to go to the same room.
Some people may not have a microphone or video camera on their computer, but they can use the computer to see the meeting. Then they can call in with a phone to hear audio. This setup adds
complexity. The computer and phone device need to go to the same room.
Multiple people at the same location may connect with a single device, so there are 2+ people on the same screen. These people need to go to the same breakout room.
Audio connections seem to be more problematic for some than the video. If participants can hear the ZM but their audio is not working, the ZM can direct them to the audio controls in the lower left corner of the Zoom user interface to try to resolve the issue. Often, the wrong audio input device is selected.