Volunteer Info: Get Started with Zoom

What Is Zoom?

Zoom is a video conferencing platform that can be used for video conferencing meetings, audio conferencing, webinars, meeting recordings, and live chat.

The Santa Clarita Valley Democrats started using Zoom for official meetings during the pandemic. This page provides a basic explainer of the application and the answer to frequent questions on its functionalities.

Zoom Basics

What is a Zoom meeting? Zoom meetings are the foundation of Zoom, and the term refers to video conferencing meetings using the platform that allow remote meeting attendees to communication frictionlessly. You don’t need to have a Zoom account to attend Zoom meetings, but it is helpful—we recommend setting up a Zoom account and downloading the software (see below).  

What equipment do I need? You can join a Zoom meeting with an internet-connected desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you have a webcam, people in the meeting can see you—it’s really helpful, but not required. A set of headphones and a microphone are almost essential—speakers attached or built-in to your computer (or phone) can be used instead as long as you have a separate microphone.

We do not recommend joining a Zoom meeting without a screen of some sort – too much happens visually.

Do I need a zoom account? A zoom account is not required to attend a meeting—but it’s very helpful. It will allow you to set your meeting preferences and upload a photo to display if you don’t have webcam or prefer to keep your camera turned off. You can sign up for a free Zoom account online.

Do I need Zoom software? No, all you need to attend a meeting is access to the internet over a good connection. However, we recommend you download the software to improve response time and so you have access to all of Zoom’s features. You can download the Zoom Software for PC or Mac online. You can download the Zoom Software for your mobile device from either the Apple or Android app store. 

How do I join a Zoom Meeting? The most common way you’ll join a Zoom meeting will be from a link sent to you via e-mail. The link will look something like this: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/123456789 (this sample doesn’t go anywhere!). Just click the link and follow the instructions.

Video: How to Join a Zoom Meeting

Using the Zoom Chat

Zoom’s in-meeting chat feature allows you to send chat messages to other users within a meeting. You can send a private message to an individual user or you can send a public message to an entire group. The meeting host can choose who the participants can chat with or disable chat entirely.

Note: Private messages between participants are not viewable by the host.

While in a meeting, click Chat in the meeting controls. The chat icon is a small speech bubble with an ellipse (…) inside

This will open the chat box to the right of the Zoom window. You can type a message into the chat at the bottom of this box. Click on the drop down arrow next to To: if you want to send a private message to a specific person rather than everyone

Muting and Unmuting Yourself on Zoom

To mute (turn off) your microphone, click the Icon your Zoom tool bar at the bottom of your screen. When turned off, the microphone icon will have red line through it. To unmute, click the icon again – the red line will go away and your microphone will be turned on.

Using the “Raise Your Hand” Feature on Zoom

Raising your hand in a Zoom meeting alerts the meeting hosts and other users that you have something you want to say. This tool helps cut down on interruptions and gives us a way to make sure everyone is heard.

Here’s how to raise your hand during a Zoom meeting if you’re using your computer:

Click on the Participants section, at the bottom of your screen.

  1. A box will open to the right of your Zoom screen. Click on the small box at the bottom that says “Raise Hand”.

Your hand is now raised (see the hand icon next to your name?), which means that the hosts and other participants will see that you have something to say. 

If your question is answered in the course of the discussion, you can also lower your hand. When you’ve raised your hand, the label on the hand icon changes from “Raise Hand” to “Lower Hand,” All you have to do is click on it and your hand will be lowered, to indicate that you don’t have any questions for now.

If you’re using Windows, you can use the keyboard shortcut Alt + Y to raise or lower your hand. If you’re using Mac, the keyboard shortcut is Option/Alt + Y.

Sharing Your Screen in Zoom

Have you ever had a document or picture on your desktop that you wanted to share in a meeting? Zoom makes it easy!

To share your screen:

Click the Share Screen button located in your meeting controls.


A new window will open on your desktop with graphical representations of the applications you have open along with the name of the screen that is open. Select the screen you want to share by pointing to it with your mouse. You can also choose an individual application that is already open on your computer, the desktop, a whiteboard, or an iPhone/iPad.

When sharing your screen, you may want to enable these optional features

  • Share Computer Sound: If you check this option, any sound played by your computer will be shared in the meeting.
  • Optimize for full screen video clip: Check this if you will be sharing a video clip in full screen mode. Do not check this otherwise, as it may cause the shared screen to be blurry.

Click Share.

Zoom will automatically switch to full screen to optimize the shared screen view. To exit full-screen, click Exit Full Screen in the top-right corner or press the Esc key.

NOTE: If you have a shared screen displayed, it is not always clear how to make the window smaller to reveal the minimize screen icon or hidden windows. To exit full-screen, click “Exit Full Screen” in the top-right corner or press the [Esc] key

To end screen sharing: Click the red stop share button:

If you have more questions about screen sharing on Zoom, here is a support article that goes into more depth.