Introduction to Zoom for OLLI

We’re excited to see you in one of our OLLI Zoom sessions. Use this guide to help you get started or support you along the way.  

The first thing to know about Zoom is that it is very straightforward to use. Even if you are not skilled with computers, you should be able to join classes and listen in without any problem. It’s also easy to be an active participant, including asking questions, if that’s your style.

Computing Requirements

  • Equipment: A desktop computer, a laptop, smartphone or tablet device with microphone and speakers for audio
  • Robust Internet Connection: You must have robust internet connectivity in order to stream video content. We can’t decide this for you, so please check whether your Internet connection is capable of hosting streaming video content. If necessary, ask a knowledgeable friend or family member or make an appointment with your Internet service provider.

Basic Instructions

  • If you have registered: two days before the class, OLLI will send you an email invitation with a link to join the class on Zoom.
  • A few minutes before the class is scheduled to begin, click on the blue link within the email invitation. This will start Zoom.
  • You will probably be asked to “Allow” access. Click on the “Allow” button.
  • You may have to be a little patient. You may see a spinning disc. Depending on your computer, it can take 20 or 30 seconds before the class opens up.
  • Once you have joined, you will have the option to “Join with Video”. Click on the “Join with Video” button.
  • After a short time, you will see your Lecturer and a gallery of other OLLI members who are participating in the class.
  • Normally, you will be muted at the start – no one can hear you. That way we don’t all hear noises in your home background.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. When your cursor reaches the bottom, you will see several icons.
  • You can choose whether you want to be seen or not by clicking on “Start Video” – a small  icon in the bottom left corner of your screen. If there is a red line through the “Start Video” icon, click on it to remove the red line and then everyone will be able to see you on screen. If you’re shy, you can leave the red line across the “Start Video” icon and no one can see you, but we encourage you to be seen.
  • The same directions apply to the microphone. At the bottom of the screen on the left, there is a “Mute” button.  If there is a red line through it, you are muted and can’t talk to the Lecturer. If you want to talk, you need to click that button to remove the red line.
  • At the top of your screen, you can choose whether to show only the Lecturer or everyone in the class (“Gallery”). You can also choose to make the Lecturer’s image bigger than all the others, and you can adjust the size of the slides the Lecturer is showing. You can also adjust the size of the images on your screen to 50%, 100% and so on. Scroll through the options and choose whichever view you prefer.
  • If you want to ask a question, the best way is to use the “Chat” function at the bottom of the screen, in the middle. Type your question in and make sure (on the little scroll-down menu in the “Chat” function) you are sending it to Everyone, not just to the Lecturer. Just type your question, then click the “Enter” button on your keyboard.
  • Depending on the Lecturer, he/she may stop to respond to your question or may keep talking and deal with your question a little bit later in the class.
  • Sometimes the Lecturer will ask for questions. In this case, he/she may unmute everyone and you can actually ask your question orally. However, this can sometimes be difficult because then we all hear any sounds, such as barking dogs.
  • At the end of the class, all you have to do is click on “Leave Meeting” in the bottom right of your screen.

That’s basically all you need to get started. We strongly suggest you utilize the Zoom Getting Started materials as well.

In Case of Trouble

It’s possible that from time to time there could be a technical hitch during a class. If things should go wrong, depending on the circumstances, the Lecturer may either leave the class or shut it down. Don’t give up! Please sit tight, and we will try to re-start the class within a few minutes. Either the Lecturer will rejoin the class or, if necessary, OLLI will send an email to everyone in the class with a new link to join again.

Of course, you can always ask OLLI staff to help you by sending an email to You can also call the OLLI office at (415) 458-3763. Even though we are not in the office, we will get back to you.

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