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Zoom Tips for Your Next Remote Court Appearance

The following are helpful tips when using Zoom for a court hearing, trial, arbitration, or focus group:


Application-Specific Logistics


1) Install Zoom on your desktop or laptop. We do not suggest using a cell phone or tablet for any court proceeding. Here is the link if you do not already have Zoom installed (it will open in a new window.)


2) If you have Zoom already installed on your device, ensure you have updated to the latest version. Open the desktop app, in the top right-hand corner, scroll down to “check for updates.



3) Identify the Webinar ID and Passcode in the calendar invite; you will need both to access most tech checks, online hearings, and focus groups.


*If you are the host, change the settings to remove the embedded passcode in the link sent to the attendees, this eliminates the possibility of people sharing the link with others and keeps the host in control and avoids potential “Zoom bombers”.


Meeting Environment


1) If you are working from home, we suggest connecting directly to the internet using an ethernet cable and avoid using wi-fi or hotspot. This reduces the risk of being disconnected from the meeting. You can test your internet speed at https://www.speedtest.net/. Bandwidth may be an issue if any participant has less than 5Mbps download speed.


Zoom Tip: Turning off your video during a meeting may also help with bandwidth issues for others who are speaking.




2) Find a quiet space within your home that allows you to focus and participate without distractions. Take into consideration pets, children, when the gardener is near and/or when trash is collected.


3) Keep the background behind you minimal. Avoid cluttered areas, personal photos, abstract art, trinkets or anything that could cause judgment, bias, or distractions. Plain walls are the best.


4) Silence your cell phone and/or place where it will not be a distraction. If you need to mute your audio or video on Zoom, use the following icons in the lower left-hand screen. You can also use Alt+A on a PC or Shift+Commmand+A on a Mac to toggle sound on and off.

Zoom Features


1) Virtual backgrounds: We do not suggest that witnesses or jurors use virtual backgrounds, however, it is acceptable for attorneys and court staff to use court-related backgrounds, only if approved by the court. This tends to ease the jurors in the feeling that it is a live court proceeding. *Should you require a court virtual background, contact me for customizable templates.



2) Hide Non-Video Participants: Hover over the three dots in the right-hand corner of a participant with no video (often a black box that includes their name in white text), click on “hide non-video participants”. This will allow you to only see attendees with their video camera on.



3) If you have two monitors, be sure to enable dual monitors in your settings. This will allow the speaker on one screen and the evidence or presentation on the other. *This setting needs to be changed PRIOR to entering the meeting.



4) Share Screen: Ensure all participants have proper permission to share their screen. If sharing depo clips or other video with audio, ensure “share computer sound” and “optimize screen sharing for video clip” is selected. Always test in advance.



5) Zoom has the feature to use PowerPoint as a virtual background, this is useful when teaching, presenting, or possible expert testimony. You can re-size your live camera view and drag and drop in the desired position.


6) Pinning: When you “pin” an attendee, it allows you to disable the active speaker view and only view a specific speaker (this could mean pinning a witness, the judge or opposing counsel.) Pinning another user’s video will only affect YOUR view, not all attendees, even as a HOST. With the Zoom update, users will now be able to pin up to 9 participants on their end. You can also customize the position of each participant using Zoom by simply dragging and dropping into the specified order.


7) Spotlight: Spotlight video puts a user as the primary active speaker for ALL participants in the meeting. To spotlight, you need at least 3 participants in the meeting with their video ON and can only be done by the host or with the permission of the host. The host can spotlight up to 9 participants for everyone in the meeting. Be sure to click in the right-hand corner and change to “Spotlight for everyone” so that your view is exactly as the viewer/audience/jurors see the screen. An example of a presentation with two speakers is below.


8) Breakout Rooms: You can create breakout rooms, i.e. Jury Room, Panel A, Panel B, Side Bar, Plaintiff/Client, Defendant/Client, etc. You can give the user the option to choose the room and leave at any time. You can assign the participant to a room in advance or once the meeting has started. Breakout rooms can now be managed by the Host and Co-Host.


If you are looking for additional tips and tricks to prepare for your next remote appearance, feel free to reach out to alicia@aquinotrial.com.


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