Zoom Tip #5: Best Practices for the Mute Button

Zoom Tip #5: Best Practices for the Mute Button

To mute or not to mute? That’s the real question when it comes to Zoom meetings.

The answer feels like it should be obvious: If you’re not speaking, mute yourself. If you need to speak, unmute. However, it’s not always cut and dry. What if you need to speak, but infrequently? What if you’re worried you’ll forget you’re on mute, speak, and go unheard?

Here’s some quick microphone etiquette based on our experience in remote meetings since 2020, as well as ways to get the most out of your Zoom microphone features.

If you’re a participant only, keep yourself muted

It’s the polite thing to do, not only for the presenter but also your fellow participants. If you’re on Zoom only to listen and watch, muting yourself shows courtesy. Some presenters enjoy using the “raise hand” option, which allows them to call on specific participants to speak so that a Q&A session doesn’t become a free-for-all.


If you’re speaking later, keep yourself muted until your turn

Maybe you’re the fourth scheduled presenter, or counsel for a co-defendant at a deposition. You know you will be speaking later, but it’s not your turn yet.  Keep yourself muted unless you need to interject, because…


Keep in mind that any sudden noise on Zoom could block out the presenter

Zoom has become a very powerful remote-work tool, but one of its weaknesses is that it still allows audio from only one source to be heard at a time. If you’re unmuted and your dog decides to bark at the mailman right as the speaker delivers important information, there’s a good chance Zoom will choose to broadcast your audio instead. The speaker won’t know that they weren’t heard, and unless a participant speaks up and asks the speaker to repeat what they said, they’ll never know.  Depending on how sensitive your microphone is, it could pick up something as simple as rustling papers or opening the rings of a binder – so you have to watch out for the small noises, not just the big ones.


Use the spacebar as a hotkey

If you’ll be speaking infrequently and worry that you’ll either forget to unmute yourself or will fumble over clicking the button in the toolbar, the quickest way to speak is to press and hold the spacebar. The important thing here is that you must hold the spacebar down to remain unmuted. If you tap it, you’ll stay muted. If you want to make sure this feature is enabled, go to Settings > Audio and make sure “Press and hold SPACE key to temporarily unmute yourself” is checked:

These settings are found by clicking the gear symbol in the upper right-hand corner of your Zoom screen after you log in, not while you are in a meeting.

As always, happy Zooming!


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