Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Old Dogs New Tricks - Zoom

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

I wish I had a dime every time I’ve heard, “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” Well, that might have been true in the past, but the pandemic has shown us that an old dog will learn new tricks if his survival depended on it. They, or we, may not like it, but when resistance means isolation and unemployment, extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures.

I have heard embarrassing tales about Zoom video calls and webcams, some even leading to dismissals. I suspect many people may not be familiar with some tricks and traps as they try to put their best foot forward using an app most of us had not heard of a year ago. To assist my prospects and clients, I wrote this blog to offers tips, tricks, and shortcuts to avoid common pitfalls and save time. 

Valuable Yet Infrequently Used Zoom Features

Setting Recurring Calls

To set up a recurring call, a host first sets up a Zoom meeting, completing various fields required.

To schedule Recurring meetings, click on that option and choose frequency. This will not only save the meeting settings but also use the same meeting ID and url for future meetings.

Note: If you meet with the same group regularly but at different times, choose the option No Fixed Time, which lets you use the same settings and meeting ID repeatedly regardless of when you meet.

Recording Zoom Call as a Video

The host can Record zoom calls for a later review or for participants who may have missed it. The host can also give permission to a participant to record the call. There are options under Zoom’s settings to record only the host or everyone attending the meeting.

Co-host Calls

To have multiple hosts, enable this feature in Zoom’s Meeting Settings. In the Meeting tab, choose the Co-host option. When the co-host joins the meeting, add the co-host by clicking the three dots that appear when you hover over their video box. Another way is to go to the Participants window and choose Manage Participants. Hover over the co-host’s name and select More to pick co-host option.

Let Someone Else Schedule Your Meetings

You can give other people permission to set up your Zoom calls as long as they have proper Zoom licenses. Set up involves opening Meeting Settings and looking under Other. There is a + sign next to Assign Scheduling Privilege. Here you add that person’s email address and click Assign. The assignee must log out and then in to activate feature. Meetings can now be created for others by using the Schedule tool.

Changing Background

Finding a decent background that does not show your CPAP machine or your favorite poster, can be a chore. Fortunately, you can now customize your background.  Go to Settings>Virtual Background and upload an image of your choice as long as it meets system requirements.

Set up a Waiting Room for Added Privacy

There is actually a phenomenon called Zoombombing — when you get uninvited zoom crashers. Zoom has a Waiting Room feature which allows you to see who wants to join the meeting before you grant access. Go to Account Management > Account Settings. Click on Meeting, then click Waiting Room to enable the setting. 

Turn on Gallery View

Gallery View lets you see everyone in the meeting at once, instead of just the person speaking. To do so, click the tab that says Gallery View in the top right corner. Up to 49 attendees can be displayed on one page. To hide the participants who aren’t using video, go to Settings > Video > Meetings, and check Hide Nonvideo Participants. 

Keyboard Shortcuts Add Efficiency

Some keyboard shortcuts are worth learning to save time. Remember, screen shortcuts will only work when meeting control toolbar has focus.

  • Alt+A: Mute/unmute audio
  • Alt+M: Mute/unmute audio for everyone except host (for host only)
  • Alt+I: Send invitations to others by email
  • Alt+S: Launch share screen window and stop screen share
  • Alt+Shift+S: Start/stop new screen share 
  • Alt+T: Pause or resume screen share 
  • Alt+F: Enter or exit full screen


  • Alt+Shift+T: Screenshot
  • Alt+L: Switch to Portrait/Landscape View: 
  • Ctrl+W: Close current chat session
  • Ctrl+T: Jump to chat with someone
  • Ctrl+F: Search


  • Ctrl+Shift+P: Call highlighted phone number.
  • Ctrl+Shift+A: Accept inbound call
  • Ctrl+Shift+E: End current call
  • Ctrl+Shift+D: Decline inbound call
  • Ctrl+Shift+M: Mute/unmute mic

Appearance and Vanity Settings

When some help with appearance is desired or needed, Zoom’s Touch Up My Appearance feature may come to rescue. If you have ever used the beauty mode for a selfie, you know what I am talking about. The filter aims to improve an appearance but it has limits. For set up, next to Start Video, click the Up Arrow>Video Settings. Under My Video, check the box for Touch Up My Appearance. 


For clothes, a plain solid color (but not bright white or dark black) looks best. Avoid busy patterns which are just distracting.

Camera Friendliness

Proper lighting befuddles people. It is common to see “Shady Faces” where half the face is shaded or blocked in some way. It is best to have one lamp, directly by your face, for even steady lighting. Sidelights or backlights don’t work. Face the window. Do not sit with your back to the window, as camera will make you into a silhouette. 

The cameras on smartphones and webcams are wide-angle. If you are too close to it, your face will look disproportional. Move away from the camera. The closer you are to a wide-angle camera, the more distorted you look. 

The camera should be at eye-level and you should be looking straight ahead. If the laptop webcam is below eye-level, stack some books underneath to bring it up. 


Audio on laptop webcam is middling at best. For improved audio, you will need to purchase an accessory mic which plugs into your USB port. The sound quality will improve substantially. 

Learning some basic tricks can have you using  Zoom like a pro. You will work more efficiently and look better doing it. That is always a good combination.