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!

Virtual office hours with Zoom

  1. Go to and select Sign in. Sign in with your Emerson account.
  2. To find your Personal Meeting Room, select Meetings [1] in the left-hand menu. Then select the Personal Room tab [2]. In the Invite Link section, you can copy-and-paste this link into your browser's address bar to join your Personal Meeting Room by selecting the Copy the Link button [3]. We recommend keeping this link in a safe and handy place or making it a bookmark.

    Note: A Zoom invite link that contains "pwd" followed by a long alphanumeric string has the room's passcode built-in, so students won't need to enter it when joining.
  3. Next, configure your room's settings for the best office hours experience. In the Personal Meeting Room tab, select Edit [4] at the bottom.

    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 button at the bottom are all indicated with numbers.

  4. In the meeting editor, select the Waiting Room checkbox [1]. 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.

    Next, clear the Allow participants to join anytime / Enable join before host checkbox [2] found in the Options section. This is because you (the host) will be admitting students through the Waiting Room.

    When you've made these edits, select Save [3].

    The personal meeting room editor in Zoom, with the Waiting Room checkbox selected, the Allow participants to join anytime checkbox cleared, and the Save button at the bottom. Each are indicated with numbers.

  5. Your Personal Meeting Room is now all set up for office hours! We suggest giving the link to your students at the beginning of the semester by including it in a Canvas announcement, along with times that you will be having office hours. 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. 
  6. Optional: If you'd like a sound notification to play each time someone joins your office hours meeting, follow these steps:
    1. Sign in at
    2. Select Settings on the left-hand side.
    3. In the Meeting tab, search for sound
    4. To enable Sound notification when someone joins or leaves, turn on the toggle. Then set the additional settings that appear to your preferences. 

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.

Student sign-up

There isn't a way within Emerson's Zoom to create appointment slots. Instead, you can schedule your Zoom meetings (or use your Personal Meeting Room as described above), then use the Canvas Scheduler to create appointment slots in your course. When you're creating your appointment slots, there's a Details field: place the link to the corresponding Zoom meeting in the field. Let your students know that they can find it there. We suggest walking them through this whole process via an Announcement by sending them this student guide.

Alternatively, you can create and share appointment schedules using your Emerson Google Calendar. You can add your Zoom link in the appointment's Location (under In-person meeting) or Description field. This is often a more useful option than the Canvas Scheduler because it allows you to create recurring slots.

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.

Still need help?

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

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