What would you say is the most under-appreciated feature in Zoom?

Of course, one could argue about that, but one contender might be the “Rename” function.

Here’s how to rename yourself (or someone else, if you’re a Host or Co-host) using the Participants Panel:​

How to rename yourself (or someone else) using the Participants Panel in Zoom

And here’s how to rename yourself by clicking your window:

How to rename yourself by clicking your window in Zoom

Why bother doing such a thing?

More than merely cosmetic, the rename feature packs a punch when used intentionally.

Over on LinkedIn this week, I’ve been sharing my top 5 tips for hacking “Rename” to get the most out of your virtual meetings.

I thought you might be interested, so without further ado, here they are!

Tip #1: Use “Rename” to strengthen your culture

Have everyone add their pronouns, where they live, or other identifying info, after their name.​

​What you choose here will depend on your group and the purpose of your gathering.​

​You may want to have everyone rename themselves a few times throughout your meeting.​

​These renamings can become opportunities for debrief/discussion.​

​Ask: “Why do you think we’re doing this?”​

​Then listen, or summarize & acknowledge the chat responses. There are no wrong answers.​

​It may seem simple, but small acts like this to acknowledge diversity and encourage inclusion make a difference.

Tip #2: Use “Rename” to learn about each other

Have everyone rename themselves as their favorite animal.​

​Then ask them to share in the chat why they chose that animal.​

​Hat tip to Lacy Alana for this one.​

​And why not play with it?​

​Depending on the group, you could have everyone rename themselves as a country they would most like to visit, and have them share why in chat.​

​Or a hobby they would love to learn, and have them share in chat what made them interested in it.​

​Or something from their bucket list, and have them share in chat why they added it to their list.​

​Come up with your own! The possibilities are endless.​

Tip #3: Use “Rename” to create a speaking order.

​When we’re in a real room together (NOT during a pandemic, obviously!), we can stand or sit in a circle, so it’s easy to see who goes next.​

​On Zoom, speaking orders are not so simple.​

​Everyone sees a different layout in Gallery View, so going down the grid isn’t helpful.​

​But if everyone renames themselves (or someone does it for them) with a number at the front of their name, suddenly we all know whose turn is next!

Tip #4: Use “Rename” to chat anonymously!

​​Have everyone rename themselves as “*”​

​(It doesn’t actually matter WHAT they rename themselves, as long as everyone has the same name.)​

​Once you’re all renamed with the same name, you can comment in the chat without anyone knowing who said what!​

​Have everyone hit “send” on their post on the count of 3 for extra fun.​

​CAVEAT: when you change your names back, the LAST person who posted in chat anonymously will be revealed, as their un-anonymous message will clump together with their previous message.​

​So as host, be prepared to tell everyone to wait before posting, and type something in chat yourself, to prevent anyone from being unintentionally unmasked.​

Hat tip again to Lacy Alana.

Tip #5: Use “Rename” to more easily recreate breakout rooms

This is another Lacy Alana tip, and it takes a bit of explaining.

If you use breakout rooms (which I cover in Non-Boring Virtual Meetings — the next live session is coming up on Thursday, June 4 at 9-11am PT / 12-2pm ET!), you may want to divide people into groups of 4, say.

No problem—Zoom can do the math for you automatically.

But what if you want to pair people up for the next activity, and later send them back into their intial groups of 4?

Then you’re out of luck.

Zoom can only recreate the most recent breakout room configuration you made.

So if you want to do a variety of breakout room configurations, “Rename” just became your best friend!

Here’s what to do:

Decide in advance the configuration you want to return to most often.

Say it’s a “home team” of 4.

Create those breakout rooms, and give the assignment for each group to come up with a team name.

When they come back to the main room, have everyone rename themselves to include their team name, like this:Rename yourself with your team nameNow it’s easy to recreate those teams when you go to create your breakout rooms!

So there you have it — my top 5 “hacks” for Zoom’s “Rename” feature. I hope you find these tips helpful!

Let me know if you have any favorite uses for “Rename” — I’d love to hear them!

​To experience some of these renaming tips in action, and a whole lot of fun activities that work great on Zoom, join me at the next live Non-Boring Virtual Meetings workshop.

I’ll be teaching a wide variety of interactive activities—both for breakout rooms, and for the main room—for groups of all sizes.

These are FUN and ENGAGING activities that you can use:

  • For transitions
  • To shift or manage energy
  • For deepening connections
  • To achieve a purpose

And yes, all on the Zoom platform (and most are platform-agnostic, so they’ll work in just about any virtual meeting platform).

If you’re sick and tired of Zoombutt…

If you’re sick and tired of people disengaging, checking out, and checking email in your virtual meetings…

Come learn some activities and tips you can use IMMEDIATELY to make your next virtual meeting more engaging and non-boring.

Click here to grab your spot now


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