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Internal Communications Resources: Zoom Norms and Guidelines


The below guide was updated in May 2023 by the Internal Communications Working Group. These norms and guidelines are meant to help MIT Libraries members use key tools in their day-to-day work. Individual teams should review these norms and guidelines with their supervisors and set expectations accordingly. 

As we expand our geographical footprint on campus and more staff have Flex Work arrangements in place, virtual meetings will become commonplace. The supported tool for virtual meetings is Zoom. Please see the MIT IS&T Knowledge Base for general info for getting setup. As with any new tool, regular use and practice will build the skills and comfort level needed to host or attend a virtual meeting. Below are some useful best practices to follow.

1. Preparations – before hosting or attending a virtual meeting

1a. Familiarize yourself with the audio/video features of your computer

  • Desktop computers need additional equipment for audio, such as headset (headphones and microphone combined in a single device), and a USB-connected webcam for video.
    • If you don’t yet have a headset, you can use a phone for audio. 
    • A webcam is only necessary if you wish to be seen during a virtual meeting.
  • Laptop computers have built-in webcams. You may still want to use a phone or headset instead of laptop speakers/mic. 
  • If you need any equipment, use the DLS Service Portal.

1b. Familiarize yourself with Zoom

  • Setup Zoom on your primary computer so you can ensure the audio and video devices/connections manage audio devices and video connections before you need them to ensure they work properly.
  • You can practice connecting to your personal room to go through all the steps needed in any type of meeting.
  • You can practice alone or with a coworker
  • Zoom Basics documentation should enable you to successfully host or join a Zoom meeting.

1c. If hosting - familiarize yourself with the physical meeting room

  • Different rooms have different equipment – see Library Conference and Meeting Rooms for complete inventory.
  • Most Libraries conference rooms have an HDMI connection to the LED monitor, a conference phone, and a USB connected webcam. 
  • A small subset of the rooms have computers with a keyboard and mouse, in these you can simply open a browser and login to Zoom. 
  • Practice!  If you are using an unfamiliar room, find time for a test run to familiarize yourself with the room’s setup before your meeting. 

2. Hosting a meeting

  • Schedule the Zoom ahead of time so you can attach those details to the meeting invite.
  • Include an alert on all meetings (Zoom and in-person) to remind participants. 
    • Outlook allows for alerts when you schedule meetings, and it can be a good reminder for people to join a meeting (or walk to a physical space)
  • As MIT Libraries staff members return to the office, be mindful of travel time when scheduling meetings
    • MIT Libraries subscribes to "MIT Time," which means generally leaving the first five minutes of the meeting open so people can join. Remember this when planning your agenda.
  • Depending on your workspace (do you have a private office?) and size of meeting, you may need to book a room for noise concerns, even if attendees are all remote.
  • Reserve the room for 10-15 minutes before your scheduled start time to give yourself time to get the in-room equipment ready and log in to Zoom to be ready for your remote attendees.
  • Use the meeting room’s phone for audio – it is very hard for others to hear if you use your laptop, and if you are typing during the meeting, it is impossible.
  • See the Meeting Norms and Guidelines for more information about how to plan a successful meeting

3. Attending and participating in a virtual meeting

Each team or group should develop their own set of practices to make sure all voices are heard. It is up to the meeting host to make sure there is a plan in place for their meeting. Some ideas to consider:

  • Use the chat feature and assign someone to watch for questions
  • Decide on a group interrupt phrase like “excuse me” or "raise your hand" feature in Zoom
  • Periodically poll remote attendees for input or feedback

4. Remote participant etiquette

As a remote participant, do your part to make the virtual meeting work smoothly.

  • Log in to Zoom to manage the audio connection – it can then identify who is speaking.
  • If you will attend as an audio only participant via a mobile device, call into the Zoom meeting and confirm with your meeting host that you can be heard.
  • Mute your phone/audio when you connect and unmute only when you need to speak.

5. Getting help

  • If you are having problems connecting to a virtual meeting using Zoom, refer to the DLS Service Portal for assistance.