It seems like everyone is turning to Zoom while social distancing. From creating fresh backgrounds to freshening up your face, these next-level features will enhance your experience.


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From virtual walking tours of vacant listings to team trivia nights, online meeting platform Zoom has quickly become a top choice for getting together in the COVID-19 market. Everyone and their mom is on Zoom (literally). The company has even placed a “we apologize for the slow response” alert on its support page.

There’s a lot more to this software than commiserating with another person through laptop screens, such as cloud classrooms, telemedicine and even licensed financial services. Because the comfort level with online meetings will no-doubt increase greatly under this coronavirus market duress, expect online meetings and virtual business to become more than alternatives to expensive business travel.

If you’re new to Zoom, consider these fun tips and best practices for getting the most out of your online get-togethers.

1. Get a new virtual background

Want to pretend like you’re hosting a meeting in an open-air, virus-free coffee lounge in Fiji? Or in a sleek, tech-enabled party bunker? Use Zoom’s Virtual Background feature.

From the account settings in your browser, click through to In Meeting (Advanced) and slide the inactive toggle to enable Virtual Background. Next, log into your Zoom desktop application, dive into Settings (the gear icon in the top right), click Virtual Background, and choose your destination.

Zoom does require a rather up-to-date computer to run this feature, so a late generation processor and the most recent operating system will give you the best results. Also, good intrinsic background lighting will help ensure a seamless look.

The writers over at The Verge have assembled a list of creative virtual options, such as the New York City apartments of Sex and the City‘s Carrie Bradshaw or Seinfeld. You can also use Unsplash’s ready-to-go library of high-resolution, Zoom-ready backdrops.

2. Nail your video appearance

If Instagram has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all really vain. Or at the very least, we enjoy following people who are.

Either way, Zoom has your back, or your face rather. Did you know there’s a “Touch Up My Appearance” feature? Yes, like so many digital facelift apps and filters, Zoom can add some subtle surface editing to your mug for that next online listing presentation or digital market update.

Smooth out those lines and deflate that eye luggage using the Video settings in both the mobile and desktop applications on all major platforms.

3. Take control of your audio

It can be tough to host a meeting when multiple parties have been forced into running their business in the middle of their quarantine-stressed living rooms. From cooped-up kids to whatever Florida-inspired Netflix documentary is being streamed in the background, the Mute All Participants function can be your saving grace when hosting a meeting.

  • For Mac users: Command + Control + M
  • For PC users: Alt + M

Remember to use your Audio Settings menu to always mute your microphone when joining a meeting. This can help ensure other participants won’t hear you complaining about a late inspector or stubborn seller before you realize they’ve joined.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with looking your best. Especially online.

4. Allow contacts access

You’re a real estate agent. You live and die by your contacts. If you’re going to become a Zoom power user, bring them along.

Give Zoom access to your contacts, and you’ll be able to meet with them instantly and invite others quickly into existing meetings without fumbling around off-screen to find a number or send an email. If using the mobile app, Zoom will request access to your native contacts list — so allow it.

Also, the General settings menu allows you to auto-copy the meeting URL when you start, making it super-easy to paste and send a link to other people.

5. Utilize Breakout Rooms

Zoom’s Breakout Rooms feature is ideal for mini group discussions within the confines of a larger meeting. This is a great way for brokers to get the whole company together while still allowing teams and staff to communicate among themselves and maintain morale.

Breakout Rooms are very helpful for encouraging group discussions, activities and brainstorming for eventual presentation to the larger group.

Like the Virtual Background, Breakout Rooms are created in the In Meeting (Advanced) settings menu.

Once activated, the feature is available on the meeting control panel at the bottom of the meeting launch window.

The number of rooms and participant assignment are configurable once the meeting begins under the menu labeled More, or they can be pre-assigned before getting underway.

Breakout Room members can control audio and video and share their screen. When it’s time, the moderator can invite everyone back to the primary meeting.

6. Check out Zoom’s App Marketplace

In the same way your multiple listing service (MLS) partners with a range of industry software players, Zoom integrates with number of popular business tools to forge coherent connections to enable in-app calls and meetings. Accessible via its App Marketplace, users can embed Zoom functionality into productivity apps such as Evernote, Gmail and DocuSign.

The customer relationship management (CRM) connections agents might be most familiar with are Salesforce, Insightly and HubSpot, but don’t be surprised to see some real estate-specific solutions jump on board before all of this is over.

For marketing, Zoom can work within MailChimp, Marketo, Constant Contact and SendGrid, among others.

View all of Inman’s coronavirus coverage here, and check out all of our content related to running your business here.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman. He lives near Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.

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