What Is Zoom? Everything You Need to Know

The CloudApp Team
Professionals gathered in a conference room and talking with colleagues.

Source: Zoom

Zoom has always been popular. In the 9+ years since its inception, the video conferencing solution has become the unquestioned leader in the space.

But Zoom has recently seen a surge in usership due to the novel coronavirus. As more and more professionals are forced to work from home in order to stay healthy, Zoom makes it possible for them to connect with their colleagues in engaging ways.

In this article, we'll teach you what Zoom is and why it's beneficial to companies, the top 10 features the software has, three Zoom alternatives, and more.

What is Zoom?

An image of the Zoom software being used.

Source: Zoom

According to Zoom, the software is "the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems."

Basically, Zoom is a communication solution that allows companies and individuals to stay in contact with each other via video conferencing features.

The tool has numerous benefits and capabilities, many of which we'll explore in the rest of this article. If you're wondering if Zoom is right for your company, keep reading.

3 Benefits of Zoom Video Conferencing

Why use Zoom? There are plenty of reasons, but here are the top three:

1. Connect Your Distributed Team

If your company is like most others, many of its employees are working from home right now as the novel coronavirus spreads around the world. Normally, this would make collaboration extremely difficult. But software solutions like Zoom connect distributed teams.

For example, you can use Zoom to host a group meeting with your entire staff — no matter where each member happens to be. You can also host one-on-one meetings, staff training webinars, and more via the Zoom platform.

These important features allow management professionals to easily connect and engage their distributed teams and keep their companies moving forward productively.

2. Intuitive Interface

Zoom has a bunch of handy features, which we'll discuss in the next section of this article. But luckily, these features are easy to use due to Zoom's intuitive interface.

Most of the video conferencing solution's capabilities are easily accessed and require minimal training to use properly. If you do happen to get stuck, the Zoom website has plenty of resources to help. There are also countless YouTube videos dedicated to Zoom training.

3. Positive ROI

Lastly, Zoom is beneficial because it won't cost your company and arm and a leg to use. It's actually surprisingly affordable given the amount of features it comes with.

We'll break down the costs of using Zoom later in this article. But for now, just know that certain features can be used for free, while Zoom also offers paid plans with detailed feature sets. But even these won't break the bank, assuring positive ROI for the organizations that use it.

10 Handy Zoom Features

zoom virtual video background


Zoom has become a leader in the world of video conferencing for a reason: it includes a lot of handy features. Here are 10 we really love:

1. Availability

Zoom can fit any workflow and is available as a desktop, browser, or mobile application. This flexibility is great for remote teams because each staffer can work from wherever they are in the way that suits them best.

Better yet, users won't have to sacrifice features when they use Zoom on their smartphones instead of their laptops, or vice versa. The features we'll mention below — virtual backgrounds, screen sharing, etc. can be accessed on all devices.

If you're looking for a flexible solution, Zoom has you covered.

2. One-On-One Meetings

Holding in-person, one-on-one meetings right now is out. Fortunately, these kinds of get-togethers are easily hosted with Zoom and feature HD video and audio quality; integration with popular calendars like Outlook, iCal, and Gmail; and encryption for total privacy.

Just because your employees and/or coworkers are working in a different place than you doesn't mean you can't meet with them. Zoom makes one-on-one meetings feel personal and engaging, allowing team members to collaborate effectively and do their best work together.

3. Group Video Conferences

Zoom isn't just ideal for one-on-one meetings. Group gatherings of 100+ people (depending on which plan you sign up for) can be hosted with the app as well. Just like we mentioned before, group meetings feature high quality video and audio, calendar sync, and complete privacy.

You can also take advantage of built-in collaboration tools like co-annotations, private and public chat groups, file sharing, virtual hand raising, and polling and Q&A features. In other words, group meetings hosted with Zoom feel just like in-person gatherings.

4. Screen Sharing

Video conferencing can become difficult if your remote colleagues can't see your work. If you've ever tried to maneuver your camera to better capture your computer screen, you know exactly what we're talking about. That's why Zoom includes screen sharing capabilities.

Instantly share your screen with each of your remote team members so they can see exactly what you need to show them. This process is perfect for explaining complex workflows and how to use specific software tools.

5. Zoom Chat

In 2019, Zoom released a business messaging tool called Zoom Chat, a handy communication solution included with all Zoom licenses. Think of it as a Slack alternative.

Full video conferences aren't always necessary. In these situations, Zoomers can use Chat to send quick text-based messages to their colleagues. The tool features channels to help users organize their conversations, a personal space to put reminders, and a searchable history.

Zoom Chat is just another tool in the remote workers toolbelt.

6. Video Call Recording

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and thought, "Wait, what did the boss ask me to do again?" If so, you're in luck. Zoom includes video call recording so every meeting hosted on the platform, private or public, can be captured for future reference. Upgraded plans will even allow you to have your meetings transcribed.

Video recording is great for recalling important information, creating video tutorials to show to future team members, and crafting marketing content for your target audience.

7. Change Your Background

Some of the features included with Zoom aren't completely necessary; they're just fun. User background manipulation is one of those.

Use Zoom to put a virtual background behind you. Options include cutting edge office spaces and city skylines. You can also upload your own images as backgrounds or download professionally crafted ones from companies like Zoom Virtual Backgrounds.

While this feature is more about fun than functionality, your colleagues will appreciate not having to look at your dirty home office every time they address you in a virtual conference setting.

8. Touch Up Appearances

You're doing your best to work from your home office. But you didn't sleep well last night, you've been so busy working on your new project you forgot to comb your hair, and you're stressed out of your mind because the kids are home and fighting with each other over the TV remote. All these things add up and you don't look your best when it comes time to log into your next virtual team meetings. What's the right play here?

If you use Zoom, you can just touch up your appearance! It will give your face an airbrushed quality and make sure you look your best in front of your boss and/or team members.

9. Set Up Breakout Rooms

If you work at a midsize to large organization with remote workers, you might enjoy Zoom's breakout rooms feature. It will allow you to split your company-wide meeting into smaller virtual rooms so that individual teams can better collaborate and work more productively.

This feature is also great for online conferences and training seminars. For example, you can host keynote speeches in the main Zoom meeting room, then split attendees up into different breakout rooms depending on the individual sessions they signed up for.

10. Keyboard Shortcuts

Lastly, Zoom has a few keyboard shortcuts that will allow you to use its video conferencing software like a seasons pro. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Join a Meeting: Control + J 
  • Start a Meeting: Control + Control + V 
  • Mute/Unmute Audio: Command + Shift + A (Mac) // Alt + A (Windows)
  • Share Screen: Control + Control + S (Mac) // Alt + Shift + S (Windows)
  • Start Recording: Command + Shift + R (Mac) // Alt + R (Windows)
  • Pause/Resume Recording: Command + Shift + P (Mac) // Alt + P (Windows)
  • Invite to Meeting: Command + I (Mac) // Alt + I (Windows)

3 Zoom Alternatives

Zoom is a popular video conferencing software, but it's not the perfect solution for every company. If you feel Zoom is lacking important features that you need, take a look at these three alternatives instead:

  • Microsoft Teams: This app helps teams "work remotely without feeling remote." It does this by including video conferencing, chat, and collaboration features into one convenient app. The best part? Microsoft Teams is completely private and secure.
  • Highfive: Highfive is "meetings reimagined." The statement is definitely true because the app takes all of the inconvenience out of video conferencing. The platform gets rid of annoying pin codes and passwords, and includes simple URLs, unlimited meetings and minutes, and team-wide screen sharing features. 
  • ClickMeeting: ClickMeeting helps "you stay connected" via its intuitive webinar and video conferencing platform. The app includes on-demand webinar capabilities; in-meeting screen sharing, polls and surveys, and CTA feature; and a detailed analytics dashboard. It's a top solution that can double as both a team collaboration app and a marketing tool because of its highly regarded webinar capabilities.
  • CloudApp: While CloudApp doesn't offer the same level of video conferencing options that Zoom does, it's an incredibly handy tool that makes staying in contact with remote colleagues a breeze. It's screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features can be used for free and are powerful enough to ensure teams can communicate effectively without wasting hours in virtual meetings.

How Much Does Zoom Cost?

Let's break down Zoom's pricing structure. The video conferencing app offers four different plans, each with its own price point and feature set. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Basic: This plan is completely free and allows users to host 40-minute meetings with up to 100 people. It also includes basic video and web conferencing features.
  2. Pro: The Pro plan costs $14.99 a month per host and includes all of the features in the Basic plan plus meeting durations of 24 hours, reporting capabilities, and more.
  3. Business: For $19.99 a month per host, users can access the Business Plan, which will allow them to host meetings for up to 300 people, receive dedicated phone support, host video conference meeting rooms with custom branding, and more.
  4. Enterprise: Lastly, we have the Enterprise Plan, which costs $19.99 a month per host with a minimum of 100 hosts. It includes all Business Plan features and adds additional capabilities such as meetings for up to 500 people, unlimited cloud storage, and more.

The plan you choose will depend on the size of your team, how often you plan to use Zoom, your purpose for using the tool, and your current budget.

Should My Company Use Zoom?

If you manage a remote team, Zoom will help you stay in contact with them via its intuitive video conferencing features. While email and Slack can boost connection as well, actually seeing your colleagues will likely improve employee engagement and satisfaction levels.

That being said, there is a cost to using Zoom's upgraded feature plans, which must be accounted for. Where does your company stand budget-wise?

Ultimately, we suggest trying Zoom for free to see if you enjoy the tool. If the answer is yes and you have the funds, invest in an upgraded plan. If the answer is no, simply go back to communicating with your team the way you currently are. No harm, no foul.

Wrapping Up

Person activating Zoom on their mobile phone.

Source: Business Insider

When it comes to video conferencing software, Zoom is the unquestioned leader in the space. Its combination of in-depth features, intuitive interface, and flexible pricing structure make it a worthy addition to any company's technology stack.

Just remember to take full advantage of all the features we outlined in this article. If you do, you'll experience all the benefits that Zoom has to offer.

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