Carnegie Mellon University

Animated picture of team placing post-it notes on a series of whiteboards.

January 17, 2023

Get the Most Out of Meetings with These Features from Zoom

Remember when Zoom was a new technology no one knew about? Yeah, neither do we! Zoom rose to international attention during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been upping its game with additional product features ever since. Now that Zoom has firmly cemented itself not just into our emergency days but our everyday, hybrid lifestyle, it will remain an important tool for all of us. Here are some features you may want to try in 2023.

New and Improved Whiteboard

Whether you’re meeting in a Zoom room, remotely from your laptop, or on the go with your mobile device, Zoom’s new Whiteboards feature is designed to bring everyone together. 

When joining a meeting, hosts can click the Whiteboards button and choose to collaborate visually on either an existing whiteboard they’ve created from a previous meeting, a whiteboard that has been shared with them, or a new whiteboard. For security, hosts can control who contributes to the Whiteboard. You can also select from a small set of templates to help move the brainstorming forward.

  1. To work on whiteboards when not in a meeting, open the Zoom desktop app.
  2. Click Whiteboards to access past creations or prepare new ones in advance


PowerPoint Backgrounds

Sure, it’s great seeing the presenter in a small window off to the side in Zoom meetings, but if you’d really like to be involved in your presentation, turn your PowerPoint into your video background. 

  1. To set this virtual background, start your Zoom meeting.
  2. Click Share and then Advanced
  3. Then click Powerpoint as Virtual Background.
  4. Click Share


Live Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning isn’t just for those with hearing disabilities. A recent study showed that 90 percent of students use captions to increase their understanding of the content. So why not ensure all your Zoom study groups or meetings are more accessible?

  1. Enable automated captions by visiting
  2. Click Settings and then In Meeting (Advanced)
  3. Click Automated captions to enable the feature and allow participants to enable captions in meetings. 
  4. Click Full Transcript and display a live transcript in the side panel during the meeting, where participants can follow along. 

Looking for more? You can also engage Computing Services for full-service captioning. 


Focus Mode

Want to keep the attention of your meeting attendees directed at the presenter? Enabling focus mode brings your presenter to the forefront, limiting participants to view only the hosts, co-hosts, or participants the host has selected to spotlight. Participants will see the names of others and their reactions but not their video feed. 

  1. Enable Focus Mode by starting your Zoom meeting.
  2. Click More and then Start focus mode.


Customized Waiting Rooms

No one likes to wait around, so if you’re planning your next big virtual event, consider customizing your Zoom waiting room with a custom image or video.

  1. Customize your waiting rooms but visiting
  2. Log in with your Andrew userID and password, then authenticate using 2fa with DUO
  3. Click Settings (left) and then Security.
  4. Click Customize Waiting Room and select a logo and description or a video that will display the next time you have a meeting with a waiting room.


These are just a few new features we thought you might be interested in. Check them out today to get the whole Zoom experience!