How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event
We love that so many people are finding Zoom to be an easy way to stay connected in this time of social distancing, school closures, and work-from-home routines. All these virtual happy hours, coffee breaks, afternoon hangs, dance practices, yoga sessions, and so many other events over Zoom — your creativity and resilience in these tough times are inspiring!
— Beth Duncan (@bttopo) March 20, 2020
What’s more impressive is that many of us are learning to host these events on the fly! As more people use our platform and host their virtual events using Zoom, we wanted to offer up tips to ensure everyone joining an event does so with good intentions. Like most other public forums, it’s possible to have a person (who may or may not be invited) disrupt an event that’s meant to bring people together.
So, a couple of reminders on using Zoom to host public events:
- When you share your meeting link on social media or other public forums, that makes your event … extremely public. ANYONE with the link can join your meeting.
- Avoid using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting and you don’t want randos crashing your personal virtual space after the party’s over. Learn about meeting IDs and how to generate a random meeting ID (at the 0:27 mark) in this video tutorial.
- Familiarize yourself with Zoom’s settings and features so you understand how to protect your virtual space when you need to. For example, the Waiting Room is an unbelievably helpful feature for hosts to control who comes and goes. (More on that below.)
Read on for a list of Zoom features that can help you safely share your Zoom virtual cocktail hour or dance break without unwanted interruptions. Ok, Zoomer? Let’s do it!
Manage screen sharing
The first rule of Zoom Club: Don’t give up control of your screen.
You do not want random people in your public event taking control of the screen and sharing unwanted content with the group. You can restrict this — before the meeting and during the meeting in the host control bar — so that you’re the only one who can screen-share.
To prevent participants from screen sharing during a call, using the host controls at the bottom, click the arrow next to Share Screen and then Advanced Sharing Options.
Under “Who can share?” choose “Only Host” and close the window. You can also lock the Screen Share by default for all your meetings in your web settings.
Manage your participants
Some of the other great features to help secure your Zoom event and host with confidence:
- Allow only signed-in users to join: If someone tries to join your event and isn’t logged into Zoom with the email they were invited through, they will receive this message:
This is useful if you want to control your guest list and invite only those you want at your event — other students at your school or colleagues, for example.
- Lock the meeting: It’s always smart to lock your front door, even when you’re inside the house. When you lock a Zoom Meeting that’s already started, no new participants can join, even if they have the meeting ID and password (if you have required one). In the meeting, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, click the button that says Lock Meeting.
- Set up your own two-factor authentication: You don’t have to share the actual meeting link! Generate a random Meeting ID when scheduling your event and require a password to join. Then you can share that Meeting ID on Twitter but only send the password to join via DM.
- Remove unwanted or disruptive participants: From that Participants menu, you can mouse over a participant’s name, and several options will appear, including Remove. Click that to kick someone out of the meeting.
- Allow removed participants to rejoin: When you do remove someone, they can’t rejoin the meeting. But you can toggle your settings to allow removed participants to rejoin, in case you boot the wrong person.
- Put ‘em on hold: You can put everyone else on hold, and the attendees’ video and audio connections will be disabled momentarily. Click on someone’s video thumbnail and select Start Attendee On Hold to activate this feature. Click Take Off Hold in the Participants list when you’re ready to have them back.
- Disable video: Hosts can turn someone’s video off. This will allow hosts to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate gestures on video or for that time your friend’s inside pocket is the star of the show.
- Mute participants: Hosts can mute/unmute individual participants or all of them at once. Hosts can block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate noise from other participants. You can also enable Mute Upon Entry in your settings to keep the clamor at bay in large meetings.
- Turn off file transfer: In-meeting file transfer allows people to share files through the in-meeting chat. Toggle this off to keep the chat from getting bombarded with unsolicited pics, GIFs, memes, and other content.
- Turn off annotation: You and your attendees can doodle and mark up content together using annotations during screen share. You can disable the annotation feature in your Zoom settings to prevent people from writing all over the screens.
- Disable private chat: Zoom has in-meeting chat for everyone or participants can message each other privately. Restrict participants’ ability to chat amongst one another while your event is going on and cut back on distractions. This is really to prevent anyone from getting unwanted messages during the meeting.
Try the Waiting Room
One of the best ways to use Zoom for public events is to enable the Waiting Room feature. Just like it sounds, the Waiting Room is a virtual staging area that stops your guests from joining until you’re ready for them. It’s almost like the velvet rope outside a nightclub, with you as the bouncer carefully monitoring who gets let in.
Meeting hosts can customize Waiting Room settings for additional control, and you can even personalize the message people see when they hit the Waiting Room so they know they’re in the right spot. This message is really a great spot to post any rules/guidelines for your event, like who it’s intended for.
The Waiting Room is really a great way to screen who’s trying to enter your event and keep unwanted guests out.
Keep Zooming responsibly
Zoom is a great way to stay connected right now, and we hope these tips will help you continue to host amazing events using our platform! If you’re not sure whether a public Zoom event is the way to go, share the meeting link only with your close friends, co-workers, and clients. You can even password-protect it for another layer of security.