Tips for Holding Virtual Office Hours with Zoom

If you wish to hold office hours via Zoom, there's an easier option than scheduling individual or recurring meetings. You can use your Personal Meeting Room, which is included in your Emerson Zoom account. This is a permanent meeting with you that anyone can join via its link. You can share this link with anyone you'd like, including all your students. Since there's only one link, you don't have to worry about inviting students each week or keeping track of multiple meeting links!


Here are the steps to set up your virtual office hours using Zoom:

  1. Go to and click Sign In. Sign in with your Emerson account.

  2. To find your Personal Meeting Room, click Profile in the lefthand menu. Under Personal Meeting ID, look for the long link and click Show to reveal it. At any time, you can copy-and-paste this link into your browser's address bar to join your Personal Meeting Room. I recommend keeping this link in a safe and handy place, or making it a bookmark.

    NOTE: Always use the long link under Personal Meeting ID instead of the "Personal Link" listed below it! The link that contains "pwd" followed by a long alphanumeric string is the one you want: it has the room's password built-in, so students won't need to enter it when joining.

    The Zoom Profile screen, with the personal meeting link and Show button indicated.

  3. Next, configure your room's settings for the best office hours experience. Click Meetings in the lefthand menu. Then click the Personal Meeting Room tab. Once there, click the Edit this Meeting button at bottom right:

    An Emerson Zoom account with the Meetings > Personal Meeting Room tab open. The Meetings button in the lefthand menu, the Personal Meeting Room tab at top center, and the Edit this Meeting button at bottom right are all circled and indicated with arrows.

  4. In the meeting editor, check the box next to "Waiting Room." With this feature enabled, when a student tries to join your Personal Meeting Room, you will see a notification in your room and a prompt to "admit" them when you're ready. The student will see a simple white screen with black text that lets them know they are awaiting the host's permission to join. This ensures that you won't have students barging in on private conversations! You can learn about this feature in Zoom's Waiting Room guide.

    I also suggest unchecking the box next to "Enable join before host." This ensures that students can't join the meeting or enter the waiting room until you have entered the meeting.

    When you've made these edits, click Save:

    The personal meeting editor in Zoom, with the Waiting Room box checked and indicated, and Enable join before host unchecked and indicated.

  5. Your Personal Meeting Room is now all set up for office hours! I suggest giving the link to your students at the beginning of the semester by including it in a Canvas announcement. Ask them to keep it in a safe place, since it's always the same link for both you and your students to join your meeting room.

This is a good strategy for office hours because it emulates the experience of a physical office. Just as a physical office doesn't move around, your Personal Meeting Room is always at the same link. And just as your physical office has a door you can open and close to control the flow of visitors, the Waiting Room feature allows you to control when students enter your meeting.


About Recording

The College reminds faculty members that if they are recording class sessions – even with the written consent of all students – they may not record office hours or personal questions from students that may occur directly after a class session ends. Should students attempt to share personal information while a permitted recording is being made, faculty members should stop any recording.

For more information, please see Guidance for Faculty Interested in Recording Classes.


If you have questions about this strategy for holding virtual office hours, please email

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