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(Pocket-lint) - Zoom has evolved into the tool of choice for keeping people connected, but one surprising trend that has emerged is quizzes.

Quizzes work so well on Zoom because they're social, while not needing people to shout across the top of each other all the time. Essentially, it's a way of getting a group of people together, engaged in an activity, without having to take turns in talking.

From business tool to quizzing cool, here are some tips on how to run the ultimate quiz from home. 

Get yourself prepared 

Every quiz master needs to start with a quiz and every quiz needs structure - and the most important parts of running a quiz happen offline, or rather, in the planning.


Make a presentation

First of all you need your questions. As you're going to be running this over Zoom, instead of reading all your questions and struggling with people not being able to hear, make a presentation. 

That can be in PowerPoint, Keynote, Slides or anything else - and we think Slides works really well, with the advantage of being free. The key thing here is to make a presentation that makes your quiz pop - because everyone else is going to see this. As always practice, practice, practice, get your transitions or effects organised, so you know what you're doing.

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The advantage of using a presentation is that you can embed everything in that presentation - a picture round, quotes to complete, music round, whatever you like. Put it into "present" and/or full screen mode, so those on the quiz can't see the rest of your desktop.

Top tip: Put each question on a different slide, so you can click through easily, or back if you need to.

Prepare your computer and network

It's worth shutting down everything else you don't need - so quit and exit Skype, Word, Photoshop - anything that could be running in the background that you don't actually need, as Zoom is a demanding app.

As you'll be sharing your screen, all you want open is the things you actually need to share - and the less programs you have open, the less Zoom will offer you when it comes to sharing.

Prepare your answers

A great way to make your quiz easier is to use an answer sheet. Sure, people can just write answers on a bit of paper, but preparing an answer sheet means people know where they are, how many questions to expect and you can make the structure of your quiz a little more complicated - for example with two part answers, picture rounds and so on. 

Once you've built your quiz, put together your answer sheet and send it through with the invitation or meeting details and people can just print it off at home.

Consider what everyone is seeing and hearing 

Remember that as the host, people are likely to be looking at, and listening to you more than any other participant, so think about what you have in the background, and what noise there is around you. 

Silence your phone to avoid those annoying bings and bongs, and don't sit next to your fridge or washing machine on the spin cycle. Also don't sit with your back to a window or patio doors, because you'll be silhouetted. A nice plain background is simple; a studious-looking bookcase is very much on trend right now, or you can pick a Zoom background, but again, keeping it simple reduces the demands on your computer.

Use the power of Zoom

Zoom, as a tool for businesses first and foremost, has a collection of features that are useful when presenting your quiz - and the main one here is the ability to share your screen, so you can show off that presentation and people can get involved with a professional experience.

Setting up a Zoom meeting 

Zoom meetings can be scheduled, or you can just go in and start a meeting and get others to join. For something organised like a quiz, it's great to schedule it for the time you want it to take place, sharing the meeting ID and password via whatever means you want. If scheduling a meeting, those ID and passwords are on the scheduling page for you.

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If you've started a new meeting, you can find the details by clicking the "i" in the top left corner and sharing - but be organised, and schedule instead.

If you are scheduling, you can setup a lot of the parameters of the meeting in advance, including allowing people in before you (the host) is there. That's great for social events.  

Dealing with that 40-minute time limit

Zoom has a 40-minute time limit on meetings unless you pay for the Pro level ($14.99/£11.99/$13.99 a month). If you're doing a lot of Zooming it is worth paying for a few months - or you can cancel at any time. Remember, only the host has to pay - everyone else gets the benefit.

You might be offered the chance to avoid the time limit if you schedule your next Zoom meeting, and sometimes there are special offers. If not, and if you don't want to pay, be prepared to end and restart at an opportune moment. That also allows toilet breaks and drink refreshes - and you can always share multiple meeting IDs in advance. 

Share your presentation and off you go

Once you're up and running with your meeting, you need to share your presentation. This is really easy and something that Zoom is really good at, which is why it's perfect for quizzes. Just hit the big Share Screen button in the Zoom toolbar and select what it is that you want to share - your presentation. 

You'll want that application to be in present mode, so it fills the screen and you're not showing off your desktop wallpaper, shortcuts and all the rest of it.

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When you go into the screen sharing option you'll find some advanced settings, including the option to limit screen sharing to just you, the host. You'll want to check this option, so no one else can disrupt things and start presenting something else from their end.

Turn off annotations

Zoom allows annotations by default, allowing participants to add annotations to screens that are shared. That means anyone in your quiz can draw on your presentation - but you can turn this off. 

Unfortunately, these are in the advanced options of your Zoom account accessed via Zoom's web portal. If you open up the preferences for the Zoom app you can get to these by heading into profile, then "view advanced features". This opens the web page for your account and down that page you'll find "annotation" with the option to switch off access for participants.

Use the power of mute

Once your quiz is underway, you'll need to keep control of the rabble. People will probably mute themselves if they want to discuss as a team, but you'll also have the power as the host to mute the entire quiz. You'll find this option in participants in the toolbar - where you can mute and unmute everyone. There's the option for people to unmute themselves - which you can also turn off if you want to.

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Importantly, muting will mean that people can hear what you're saying. If you have to explain the rules of a round or give any pointers, definitely mute everyone - and you'll also want to mute all for the music round too, if you have one.

But don't leave things muted all the time, as this will then dampen the social feeling to the quiz - people will still want to talk, laugh and interact. As you're using a presentation people can read the questions themselves so a little noise isn't going to spoil things.

Welcome to the music round!

Having a music round makes for a great quiz and there's nothing to stop you doing that via Zoom too. There are a range of options for using music, basically an easy way and a more complicated way.

The easy way to share music on Zoom

The simplest is to use the microphone on your computer to play that to those on your quiz.

You can even play this from your computer (from Spotify or wherever) because once you're sharing your full-screen presentation, those "watching" on the meeting will stay looking at that when you navigate away - because Zoom then pauses screen sharing until you return to that app. 

So, you can switch to Spotify and play those tracks from a pre-assembled playlist, knowing that those doing the quiz aren't looking at your screen, they're looking at your presentation still. 

If you don't want to do that you can always just play the music from another device, like your phone, straight into the mic on your computer. 

The downside of doing this is that you'll be relying on your mic and that means the quality isn't always going to be so good.

The more complicated way to share music on Zoom 

Zoom has a "share computer sound" option. This is really designed so that if you're sharing music or video, it comes straight from your computer rather than from your microphone.

If you want to integrate this into your own quiz it's easy enough to do. If you have audio (or video) embedded into your presentation, then you can do this:

  1. Hit the "share screen" option in the Zoom toolbar.
  2. Click the "share computer sound" option, but stick with the same presentation file you're using.
  3. Then "share screen" and then play your music. 

That will share the music straight from your presentation to the viewers and sound a lot better than using your microphone. Remember to hide the icon for the music when presenting, so it looks nice and clean.

This also works for video too, which you can embed, play and share - and there's an additional check box to optimise video for sharing. 

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While this is happening, your own mic is still on, so you can still talk, if you need to. Once you've finished with the music round, you can return to normal screen sharing. Zoom lets you change these audio options during a call, if you want to enable and disable computer sound during the quiz.

However, different computer setups work in different ways, and some external speakers might stop playing the audio, meaning you can't hear the music. Some might have the option to monitor audio separately - for example through a set of headphones connected to their microphone - but definitely test whether this works on your computer before you attempt to do it in a live quiz.

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Sharing audio only in Zoom

There's a third option which is to share audio only. This means you're not sharing your screen - so you effectively put your presentation to one side for the music round.

Because you're not sharing your screen, you can switch to your music source (like the Spotify app for example), and play through your playlist.

You can use this method as follows:

  1. Hit "share screen" (or "new share" if already sharing your screen) on the Zoom toolbar.
  2. Select the "Advanced" tab.
  3. Choose "Music or Computer Sound only".
  4. Play your music.

This is a simple option to use because you know you're not going to reveal the music source and you don't have to embed it as part of your presentation.

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As above, most people will probably find this works fine, but in some computer setups the speakers might stop playing so you can't hear the music. Again, test before you do this live. 

If you are switching to a different sharing style for music, remember to return to your presentation once you've finished the music!

Revealing your winners

It's easy to have your answers on slides so you can quickly run through and have people mark their own sheets. Having them on display again means no confusion over what the answer actually is.

This is also a great time to have all the microphones on so everyone can enjoy the jubilation or sickening feeling when they get something wrong.

Finally you need to know who has won and the easy way to do this is to have everyone write their score on their sheet and hold it up to their camera.

Don't panic - it's not backwards!

When someone holds up writing to the camera, in their own preview picture the writing will be backwards to them - but it will be forwards to everyone else. That's to do with camera mirroring, which makes it a lot easier to see what you're doing on the screen, because your preview video matches your own movements.

Mirroring exists for your benefit and any writing you hold up to the display is only backwards in your preview - everyone else sees everything exactly as it should be. 

The only way your writing will appear backwards is if you go and write it backwards. If this is all too confusing, you can turn off mirroring in the video options for Zoom.

Thanks to Laura for the inspiration for this article!

Writing by Chris Hall.
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