Our top 5 new Zoom features

Like most businesses, the Viridian team has worked remotely since March 2020. This meant that we had to rethink and redesign the way we operate as a team, and the way we design and deliver programmes. 

This new norm has allowed us to deliver programmes across the African continent, while being based in Cape Town (we’re currently working with entrepreneurs and investors from 13 countries). In the past year, we’ve delivered over 50 virtual workshops, masterclasses, webinars and created over 80 videos for online programmes. We’ve even built a whole online community! 

Transforming our typically face-to-face training to various digital formats, we’ve learned to leverage and pair a wide range of digital tools and processes. Surprisingly or not Zoom remains our core video-conferencing tool for workshops, meetings and webinars.

In the last few months, Zoom has released a number of great new features that we have experimented with for three of our current programmes: The Launch League Hubs virtual training, the African Angel Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize programme. 

We’ve chosen our top 5 new Zoom features, listed below

1. Breakout Rooms

To create an engaging learning experience, and to encourage networking and deeper dive discussion, we regularly use breakout rooms to mix up our training and workshops. 

Zoom now allows you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions. Previously, only the meeting host could create and manually or randomly assign breakout rooms (quite a tricky task when running a webinar!) Now, the host can elect to allow the participants to choose their own breakout room, and co-hosts also have the authority to create them.  We like to use this feature to facilitate speed networking, and workshop discussion. You could even use Zoom for a mini “un-conference”, where participants can choose to move from room to room as they please.

2. Turn on Live Captions

Closed caption allows for host or meeting attendee assigned by the host, or a third party captioning service to add closed captioning in a meeting. Because we work with entrepreneurs and angel investors from across Africa, including our francophone counterparts, we’ve enjoyed making our webinars and workshops more accessible by activating this feature so they can follow along the conversation easily by reading subtitles of speaker conversations. 

3. Audio Settings & Meeting Transcriptions

To complement live captions in our webinars and workshops, Zoom now allows you to amend the setting of your audio so that you can increase and decrease the volume of your mic, as well as choose to minimise the background sound (street noise and barking dogs) picked up by your microphone during a call. 

Additionally, we use an automatic transcription service add-on to produce an almost word-for-word account of each meeting to share with participants. Otter.ai transcribes the audio recording file when you record in the cloud. You can even link it to your Zoom account, to save having to upload it. This is also a great feature for taking meeting minutes of strategy sessions or board meetings. While it’s best to look over the transcriptions before sharing them, it’s a great (and quick!) starting point to producing a script. 

4. Powerpoint presentation virtual background

This feature allows us to present Powerpoint presentations in meetings by displaying as a virtual background. This creates an immersive sharing experience, where the speaker can physically signal to the points they’re speaking to! It makes for great recorded content, too. We’ve used OBS in the past, but are increasingly using Zoom as our recording software. 

5. Video filters & studio effects

Zoom has released a great range of video features to improve video and picture quality, as well as enhance video with (some very cool) virtual backgrounds and filters. They understand that some days can be chaotic – blurring your background can be a great way to hide your messy office. With a range of studio filters, Zoom now puts on your lipstick better than you can! You can touch up your appearance, put on a hat, or even add some facial hair. We like this feature because it can make for a great ice-breaker, or help you when you’ve run out of time to put on your lipstick. 

We looked at these and many more new Zoom features in our weekly team learning coffee, that we are continuously incorporating daily operations. 

If you’d like to learn about the other new Zoom features, you can access the slide deck Beryl presented HERE. Or watch this overview video from Zoom.

What other tools and features are you using to run workshops and meetings?