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Zoom Meetings version 6 -- 7 "don't miss" features

So Zoom drops a major upgrade…and where do you even start?

Truthfully, there's a lot in this particular release...which is why figuring out the key places to dig in is important.

In this podcast, V2's Senior Program Manager (and resident Zoom SME!) Jessica Bradford joins Roger Courville for a practical episode of Thought Leader Conversations.

We named it "7 features" -- but we ended up talking about way more, including

  • An overview of Zoom Meetings version 6

  • The key new features that will impact user experience

  • Features that will affect your work as a producer

  • and more!


Sponsor: V2, LLC, expert virtual and hybrid event production,  

Host: Roger Courville, CSP,   



[00:00:00] Roger Courville, CSP: So zoom drops a major upgrade. And where do we even start? Hello and welcome to seven features to not miss in zoom meetings version six. It's a big upgrade. Hey, my name is Roger Courville and welcome to another episode of thought leader conversations Sponsored by the crew at virtual venues and that's of course who we have here today Just talking about some new stuff.

You know, one of the things that we do here is is look at your specific use case and match it with just exactly the right tools so that you get the, you get to the goal or the outcome that you want. But we're not really here to talk about our business model so much as welcoming to the stage, Jess Bradford.

Uh, Jessica, you know, I'm. I am excited that you are here in part because I know there's probably nobody at V2 that spends more time with Zoom than you. Well, maybe me, I don't know. Tell us a little more about yourself since it's your first time on the podcast.

[00:00:59] Jessica Bradford: Thanks, Roger. And thank you so much for having me today.

I'm stoked to be here. My name is Jessica Bradford and I am a senior program manager here at V2. I have been in the virtual event space since 2008, if you could believe that. And I've been here at V2 for 13 years, so kind of a long time. Um, and here as our senior program manager, I, uh, handle a lot of our big high touch clients.

Um, so kind of helping them walk through that. Virtual event life cycle from start to finish. Anybody that might need that more kind of white glove touch, they come to me. Um, I also am our, uh, team's Zoom Smee. So I think that's part of the reason I'm here today. So we can talk about these new updates.

[00:01:45] Roger Courville, CSP: Smee, that's a, that's a techie language right there.

Subject matter expert. Yeah, we spend a lot of time getting into the back stuff and particular to this conversation, we spent, Jess and I spent some, I don't even know how long we spent digging in and you've spent time on your own as well. One of the things that I think, uh, I've seen with, uh, like in my Facebook group is some people going, Whoa, where do I even start?

And so we just thought, you know what, let's pull out, let's pull out some features that strike us for one reason or another, and just chat about 'em. We're not doing any demos, we're not showing things. Obviously, we're not here to sell you zoom, but if you want to think about a few things that are kind of cool that you might, uh, that you might give an eye to.

Uh, that's what we're here to do. So Jess, where do you want to start? Pick one.

[00:02:36] Jessica Bradford: Well, should we start with just kind of some of the new things you're going to see? I think just in terms of the user experience, when you come into, uh, zoom meetings on this new version, um, I think one thing people are going to notice is that they have changed a lot of the icons and they have moved to different spots.

Um, so when you come into the meeting room, you'll notice, um, those icons at the bottom. So like where reactions are, uh, where the chat is, all of those things, those icons have changed, changed slightly. And also now, a cool thing with that is you can, um, where the meeting settings are down there, there's that menu settings, the three little dots, you can actually drag and drop the icons that you want to have access to onto your toolbar at the bottom, which is really cool.

Yeah. I thought that was pretty neat, makes it way more user friendly for attendees and for hosts and co hosts. Um, also, something new that I liked about it too down there was the, uh, emoji reactions are way more dynamic now too, really cool. When you go in there and look at that, it's a heart now, and if you click on it, um, there's a new line of emojis.

And if you click on them, they're actually like, they're thumbs up and the smileys now. go up and float above your head and way more dynamic. So that's pretty cool. That's something that you'll definitely notice when you come into the new version. Um, what about you, Roger?

[00:04:02] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, as long as we're talking about user experience, UX and buttons, I love the fact that, uh, because obviously what we do is a lot of production for, for clients who, who have exact in exacting needs and standards.

I loved that they moved. and created a new button they call, uh, what do they call it? The host button? Host, I think host controls is what it's called. So if you're the host or co host or one of the co hosts, you now see a button that gives you access to all of the things you have used to have to go hunting for that you wanted to turn on and off.

Like, uh mm-Hmm, , you know, you wanna be able to turn off the entry chime or, uh, whatever those were. And you might remember that, that you used to have to go into, say, the participant list and select the little more button or the, the chat window, and then select the little additional options button. They're all behind one.

conveniently centered button. Now that's pretty cool. Yes,

[00:05:05] Jessica Bradford: yes, for sure. Even if our power users like us are really gonna appreciate that when you're hosting and co-hosting the meetings for sure.

[00:05:12] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. Um, one thing I think we figured out that is new, but it might only be on the Mac version so far. Mm-Hmm.

is uh, a feature called Play Chime for raised hands. And so since I'm a Mac user, uh, or I use both, but my Mac is my primary, when I turned it on, I'm like, Oh, my first thought, my first gut reaction was like little throw up in the back of my mouth. I'm like, Oh, hold chime. I mean, right. I'm the guy that's always turning off the entry charm.

So you're not hearing a ding dong every time someone leaves a meeting. Right. So I'm thinking of, I'm thinking chime like that. And it was not that way. Right. And what, so when we tested it, what I found was that it was a custom, a pleasant and kind of almost in the background, just this really, really comfortable little chime, almost like the something you'd hear on an airplane.

Um, but if you like that oral cue, right, you think about those nonverbal or those, those cues that we are missing when we move from. In person to online. Mm-Hmm. . One of the beautiful things about that is you may or may not see somebody's hand up. Kinda depends on how many people are in the meeting, whether or not you're looking at the participant list, you know, whatever those, so, so if you like that other little something that says, Hey, somebody's got their hand up, I think that's a pretty cool little.

Pretty cool little tool.

[00:06:40] Jessica Bradford: I think that's really cool. And I think too, correct me if I'm wrong, but you use the chime. Um, I think only you hear it as the host or co host.

[00:06:48] Roger Courville, CSP: Oh, right. That was one of the other things we figured out. Yes, that was true. Meaning I turned it, me turning it on for me and Jess was also a host or co host.

She wasn't hearing it. It wasn't turning it on for everybody. It was just for me as the, you know, it was just for me.

[00:07:06] Jessica Bradford: Which is cool. Cause it's not kind of interrupting. You know, the meeting in any way with an additional sound like we were talking about, which is pretty cool.

[00:07:14] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. I think one of the things that I think is often, um, underutilized in virtual event platforms, uh, including Zoom, is the ability for you to customize things to the way you like to do them.

Right? ? Mm-Hmm. , uh, I've been a guest because I wrote several books and stuff. I've been a guest on a lot of podcasts and oftentimes they'd go, Hey, what's your one tip? And I would say. Change, open your at a glance tools and they're like, what, what, what are my at a glance tools? And I'm like, well, open up that chat box or that Q and a pane, undock it and stick it right under your nose.

So those questions come in, you don't have to go hunting for them. And you know, that would, so to me being able to customize that little chime, one of the ways I can. Customize the experience for me to be able to be more dynamic and interactive talking in a sense with people instead of at them

[00:08:15] Jessica Bradford: Totally.

Yeah, and you you would know better than anyone because you do so many Uh, trainings with meetings where that's going to be super handy having folks being able to raise their hand and you'll be able to hear it and really interact with them. Like you said, I think that's going to be a really, really helpful one.

[00:08:33] Roger Courville, CSP: What's another feature that you like?

[00:08:34] Jessica Bradford: Um, let's see. So this feature that I want to bring up next, it technically 2023, but I've. think we should mention it just because I don't think a lot of people know about it. So when you create polls now on the account level, so when you're in your Zoom profile in the backend scheduling, now when you go to schedule or excuse me, um, yeah, schedule or set up a polling question back there, um, you can actually turn on the ability, um, to create breakouts based on the results of that poll.

So, Really cool. Roger and I tested it. Um, we, you know, had a couple of polling questions pop up and then based on how our team responded, it automatically breaks. out attendees into those breakout rooms, um, based on the results. It's super cool. So after the poll ends, it actually gives you a little option in the polling window now to go to the breakout window and then you can open it up, see people are already moved into their groups.

You can still move people around if you need to, and then just go ahead and start the breakouts like you would. I thought that was really cool because now you can split up attendees based on certain criteria, um, based on a polling question, which I think Roger, you mentioned, you know, with one of your clients where you do these really long, you know, multi day trainings that that might be really, really helpful.

I know that I have a couple of clients that I might be helpful for too. So really looking forward to using this one more.

[00:10:11] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, I think there's, I think there are two things that are really, uh, are part of how that touches down. One, you have to think a little bit more like an instructional designer. Right.

You have to think in advance. What do I want this experience to be? And obviously a lot of webinars or events don't do breakout rooms, which to me is, is a tragedy. It's, I think it's a, it's an opportunity that's often not even thought about. Interestingly, one of the guests that we had on this show, um, was it a year ago?

Lauren Sawyer. talked about how she did lead generation marketing using breakouts. And to me, I think, uh, I mean, I, I just, I think it's a, uh, just a, uh, a potential that is just untapped. Right. And, and honestly, I'm probably as good an example of any with regard to why we even have this discussion today. I didn't know.

That that feature came out last because the clients that I work with, um, we were using their platform and they, they had it switched off and I'm like, Oh no, that, that didn't just, that came out last year. I'm like, what? So, you know, what's crazy is we do this a lot. We do this way more than most any of our clients, right?

And still you, you get struck. I'll tell you, uh, I'll, I'll, uh, I'll assume the ball's back in my court. Here's the next feature that I think is, is cool. Portrait lighting for video. I'm going to say that again. portrait lighting for video. Now here, here's a, uh, a 50, 000 foot description. I'll just give you a verbal description.

The, the, when you turn that on, um, you do, you know, think about how zoom will blur your background. Well, this is kind of like that, except that it uses AI to create, it doesn't totally blur out your background. What it does is finds you in the image or in the, in the video and brightens you and dims your background.

So it does it with a lighting contrast, doesn't blur it. It's lighting contrast, which. If you know anything about lighting and why, say, photographers do three point lighting, part of it is to create this visual separation of the object that you want to have the center of attention, meaning the person, and then some, and then whatever the background is, right?

That three point light kind of gives you that, that separation. This kind of fakes that, and it does it really well. I mean, um, what did you think when we, when we played with that?

[00:12:58] Jessica Bradford: I was so shocked at how well it works, and I, I'm already using it every time I'm in zoom now, because I suffer like many from being backlit in my office, no matter what I do, I shut my blinds.

I, you know, aside from like putting black sheets over my, my windows behind me, um, I can't get rid of that light. So, um, even with a ring light, which I'm using right now, so I use it. It's awesome. It, yeah. Like you said, it dims your background just enough so that you pop out of, pop out, stand out, and, um, it makes you look like you have more lighting on your, on your face, which is really, really cool.

Um, and I know, Roger, we were talking about this. It's very similar, like you said, to a virtual background, and then it is a little bit more, um, kind of bandwidth, bandwidth heavy. So I think when people are using it, they'll just kind of want to be aware of that, but I think it's a really cool feature and I think I'll definitely be showing speakers how to turn that on if it looks like they're having, they're having, you know, backlit.

Issues like me. Um, and it can be set, uh, or turned on in your, uh, video settings within the meeting app. So you can go there and, and enable it.

[00:14:17] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. In fact, you know, I think whether you are a professional producer or not, you'd be somebody's friend by pointing this out to them. Because very, very few people have like killer professional lighting.

Okay. Very few. They might have a ring light or something to help, but I don't know if you assuming you've got the computer horsepower for that, I would imagine that would help most anybody. And it's really easy to check. I mean, it's really easy to test as, as Jessica said, go to, just go to your video settings and flip a switch and it's easy to flip it on and off and see what the difference would be.

[00:14:56] Jessica Bradford: Absolutely. Absolutely. Definitely one of my favorite ones. So I can talk about the next one here. Um, so. One of the, I think one of the bigger kind of rollouts, um, for meetings, um, within this version is the rollout of a new video layout called multi speaker video. Um, so it's basically, um, I think they're trying to help, um, Create a more dynamic, engaging experience with this layout.

Basically it adapts to whoever's currently speaking and highlights and enlarges their video tiles. And so you have, I think it'd be really helpful in a scenario where you have, definitely, you need to have more than two speakers for this to work. Um, but basically if you have a panel discussion of people on, on video, maybe like, you know, five to seven.

speakers or something like that. It highlights, um, uh, the two people that are speaking the most kind of on the top. And then everybody else is in smaller tiles below. So it's kind of similar to gallery view, um, but a little bit more dynamic and highlighting a little bit more large, the folks that are speaking.

The other thing that's really cool about this layout is even when somebody is sharing, The layout is preserved when you're in side by side mode. So when you're viewing somebody's screen that Multi speaker video layout you'll still see you know Those two bigger tiles on the top for the two main speakers and then the littler tiles below which I thought was pretty neat still a feature that is user, I would say end user based, meaning that attendees can decide whether they want to be in multispeaker, if they want to be in single speaker or gallery.

So they still have the option to choose which, you know, view they want. Um, and think of it kind of like pinning a video. So they have that, that ability there. Right. Roger, was there anything you wanted multispeaker? Yeah, no, I think that's a,

[00:16:58] Roger Courville, CSP: that's a useful thing to point out. It's an end user driven tool and.

[00:17:06] Jessica Bradford: Seems to be a theme on this update.

[00:17:08] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, well, and here's the thing, you know, I mean, obviously, you and I, when we're producing for someone, we're often charged with, or given the task of helping to control what, or how someone is seeing what they're seeing. So, um, you know, just be aware at the moment it's just an end user feature, um, and not something that you as the producer, host or co host can, can affect for somebody else at the moment.


[00:17:39] Jessica Bradford: Great, great call out for sure.

[00:17:40] Roger Courville, CSP: Like, like you can when you spotlight. Right. But if you think about it, um, you know, I would imagine sooner or later they'll give you some version of that, right? Whether it's. Being able to create a layout and say, follow, follow, host order, or I forget what, anyway. Yeah, just like, and by the way, just here's your factoid.

Just in case you didn't know, spotlighting can go up to nine people.

[00:18:09] Jessica Bradford: That's a good reminder. Yes.

[00:18:13] Roger Courville, CSP: So I would imagine, yeah, it'll, sooner or later, it'll. They'll, they'll update that, I would imagine. Uh, next one. App. We'll both talk about this one. App color themes, and in a sense, a visual overhaul. So, um, this is different than what we were talking about before.

We were talking about some new layout icons. You may find that, Um, you may find that some things are in different places now when we're talking about you, you know, user experience that we, we kicked off the show with, like, for instance, one of my favorite things is in the upper right instead of the upper left part of, but this is talking about colors.

Jess, what did you discover?

[00:18:57] Jessica Bradford: Sorry about that. My phone's ringing in the background. Um, well, I, I discovered that, uh, Each so another end user feature. So again, this update is very focused on attendees being able to kind of really customize their experience, which is pretty cool. Um, so if you come into zoom now, you'll notice in the upper right hand corner where your video layouts are.

If you go to view, you can actually scroll down now and select a different color theme. I think there's three presets you can choose from. Um, so there's the standard black, which you're used to, which is just the, the black background that you see behind, you know, the video tiles and zoom. So I think there's three other different colors that you can choose.

You can kind of customize your view. Um, and when you do that, it also updates. the color of your Zoom app in your toolbar. So if you're using, you know, the desktop app, it will actually change the color of that as well. So that's pretty neat. Um, there, so that's the theme. And again, that's kind of the attendees can change that based on their connection.

Um, the other thing that they did update for meetings is they did add the ability to now have a customized wallpaper. So they added this for webinars. I think, I think a few updates past? I want to say it's like a couple ago. Um, and so they finally added it for meetings as well. So, um, as the host or the co host, you can go into your zoom account.

Um, and in your, um, account, you can actually, there's a bunch of presets you can choose from now that zoom created. A lot of them are pretty cool, like different colors and cool, different kinds of images, things like that, that you can just, Decide if you want to use that, or you can upload a custom one. So if you want something that's, you know, got your logo or some of your branding, um, colors that you want to include, now you have that ability to have that customization.

Um, I think that was something that. A lot of people were wanting, cause I feel like zoom does lack that a little bit and it's, it's brand ability. I mean, you have the ability to brand some registration pages and the emails a little bit, but in terms of within the console itself, it really didn't have any ability for.

For brand ability. So I think this is going to be one that gets used quite a bit for folks. And I know in addition to this, they also did make the change where you can actually customize your name tag too. So you can actually change the color of your name tag. You can even update images for that too. So that's also something that I think people are really going to be using more to kind of really get that branding and customization in their meetings more.


[00:21:43] Roger Courville, CSP: there's a number of things, and I know we're talking about the meetings app today, but there are a number of things that show me that, that tell me anyway, they have been listening to the marketplace with regard to what the market wants. For instance, if you look at what they've, how they've been updating, how they price package and position, uh, on the events side right now, they have zoom webinars, zoom sessions, and zoom events, which have different levels of customizability and brand ability and that kind of stuff.

Um, sounds like, you know, to me. They're taking some cues from Mon 24 and some of the really highly configurable platforms out there, but Last thought on the desktop app color thing the Did we figure out if if if you? Create a custom wallpaper. Does that override somebody else? The end user changing their app?


[00:22:39] Jessica Bradford: Yes Great. Great question Absolutely. So if you decide you want to add a wallpaper that will override the theme option So then attendees will have to view the wallpaper. So that's a really good call out Roger You can force them into seeing that brand, that branding color images that you've added.

[00:23:00] Roger Courville, CSP: All right. I know we've talked about way more than seven different features here, but I will, I'm going to throw this one out because, uh, to me, um, I think this is kind of cool. My own background being including some audio engineering eons ago, this one's called Improved Voiceprint for Personalized Audio Isolation.

Now, Uh, you know, WebEx has some, some version of, you know, voice isolation, et cetera. But this is another AI driven tool. And here's basically what it does. It's kind of like noise cancellation on stereo, but zoom is, has added this ability for you to train your account on your voice, right? So now it will, it can zoom in on, dial in on your voice print and.

Uh, that will help it be more effective and more efficient, uh, use less processor power, et cetera, in terms of, you know, background noises or distinguishing my voice from Jessica's voice, um, in terms of those, uh, what's the word I'm looking for in terms of being able to, to do a, an oral version. I'm talking about video where it highlights your face and dims the background that's going on with AI and background noise reduction, screening out, ringing telephones, or

[00:24:35] Jessica Bradford: yes, I wish I wish I was using it right now for my phone that was ringing.

[00:24:40] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah.

[00:24:42] Jessica Bradford: Um, but that's how you know, we're live. Right. So

[00:24:45] Roger Courville, CSP: totally. Well, and, and, you know, We're kind of a casual, keeping it real kind of crew, right? So, but here's, here's one thing that is useful to remember about this particular feature. You have to train your account. That means that it's not going to be something that's going to just work wherever you show up.

Like, for instance, I've got one client and they've got like, I don't know, four or five different zoom accounts that are on, you know, that are, Essentially like personal accounts. They're not all it's not five users on one domain and that you know You'd have to go train five different accounts for it for them It would be the would be the point so it may or may not be something that use that works for you but in terms of just having a having Recording quality that pops, that's, uh, I think that's really useful, um, particularly because I believe audio is the most important part.

Right? Absolutely. If you, if you have audio without video, you can still have a meeting. If you have video without audio, you can nod and.

[00:26:01] Jessica Bradford: Yes. I actually had that experience the other day where somebody's video cut out, but we could still hear them and every, so everything went fine. You know, I mean, you could still get through what you needed to get through for sure.

So, um, I think for folks that are power users like you, that. You know, really value high quality audio. I think that this will be a big one for folks like that, that are going to really, that really dig into the audio quality and those presets and making that sound really rich. Um, I think this will be kind of a cool one, but again, as you mentioned too, it's profile on your, your specific profile or zoom account.


[00:26:42] Roger Courville, CSP: As I recall, I didn't, I didn't, But, um, as I recall, you have to give it permission because you're actually letting it train your voice, you know, there's a, there's a, there's a privacy, uh, question or concern there. Just kind of like you have to, you know, give your computer permission to, to use your thumbprint or your facial recognition or something like that.

But here's one place it will really help. Um, there are people who insist on using area based microphones, meaning they just, you know, They just use the microphone that's on their computer as opposed to some external microphone that helps better isolate the sound. Or it'll also be really useful in the context of like, say, a room, right?

If you're in a hybrid environment, you know, whoever's in a zoom room or in a conference room, um, with

[00:27:33] Jessica Bradford: a lot of background noise. I don't,

[00:27:36] Roger Courville, CSP: I don't, that'll be huge. So, all right. Well, I know we've, we've chatted through a bunch of things. Any other thoughts, any other features you want to throw out there before we call it a day?

[00:27:47] Jessica Bradford: Uh, I think there's just one more. This one's not really a fun one. It's just, uh, just, I think people should know about it though, is that, uh, they are not going to be supporting windows seven or eight on this latest release. So, um, if you are running Windows 7 or 8, I would be aware of that, uh, before you update to this latest release.

I'm not sure if very many folks are on Windows 7 or 8 these days, there could be a few, um, but I think that's a good one just to know about for sure.

[00:28:21] Roger Courville, CSP: Awesome. Well, uh, thank you again to Jessica Bradford and sharing her deep, and I mean deep, level of knowledge. Um, we, we, if you don't know Jess, you, you need to get to know her because she is a fount of knowledge.

So, and we're going to have you back. to talk about Simulive because one of the things that Jess does a lot is work with clients who do want to use pre recorded video and simulated live kind of contexts and so she's a whiz at that so we'll have her back on the show to talk about that. In the meantime, we thank you for catching this particular episode of Thought Leader Conversations and we will see you next time around.


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