How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event
We’re honored that you are using Zoom to stay connected in this time of social distancing, remote learning, and work-from-home routines. We’ve seen our platform used in so many ways — for work, happy hours, public celebrations, virtual classrooms, yoga sessions, and so many other events and experiences.
However, without precautions, events that are designed to bring people together could be attended by a person who is not invited.
How meeting disruptions occur
When it comes to virtual events, disruptions may occur when the event — and therefore the meeting information — is made open to the public. A user could share a private meeting link on social media, send their virtual classroom information to their friend, email out an invitation to a virtual event, you name it. But when these links are out on social media or other public forums, that makes your event completely public and anyone with the link can join it. With events like weddings and life events, lecture-style classrooms, cultural celebrations, live viewing parties, and exercise classes commonly shared publicly, that could potentially mean they’re vulnerable to a disruption.
Tips to prevent disruptions
As people use the Zoom platform to host their virtual events, we wanted to offer up tips to ensure everyone that joins an event was invited to it.
So, a couple of reminders on using Zoom to host public events:
- Zoom has created OnZoom, an entire marketplace of immersive experiences. Currently only available to paid users in the U.S., the platform can be used by organizations and individuals to create their own public event or event series. Hosts can tailor settings before and during the event to create a secure environment for attendees.
- There’s also the Zoom Video Webinars solution, which is designed to support live and on-demand private events. With Zoom Webinars, only hosts, co-hosts, and panelists have the ability to speak, display video, and share screens. Hosts and co-hosts can also adjust the chat and Q&A features to ensure only certain content makes it in front of the wider audience.
- While Zoom Meetings were not designed to host public events, if you do end up using Zoom Meetings to host such an event, avoid using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) for that occasion. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting and you don’t want outsiders crashing your personal virtual space after the party’s over.
- No matter what type of Zoom solution you use for your event, 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 feature for Zoom Meetings helps you control who comes and goes to an event. (More on that below.)
If you use Zoom Meetings to host an event, read on for a list of features that can help you keep it a safe and seamless experience.
Manage screen sharing
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 go to “Advanced Sharing Options.” Under “Who can share?” choose “Only Host” and close the window.
Manage your participants
- 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 a message that says, “This meeting is for authorized attendees only.” 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. Just click the Security icon at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the 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. You can share these details privately with respective attendees.
- Remove unwanted or disruptive participants: You can remove someone from your meeting by using the Security Icon or Participants menu. On the 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.
- Disable video: Hosts can turn someone’s video off. This will allow hosts to block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate gestures on video.
- 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.
- Suspend participant activities: Hosts and co-hosts can pause the meeting to remove and report an offending party and prevent further disruption. Click the Security icon and select “Suspend Participant Activities” to temporarily halt all video, audio, in-meeting chat, annotation, screen sharing, and recording, and end Breakout Rooms. You can resume the meeting by re-enabling the individual features.
- 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, which participants can use to message the entire group or each other privately. You can restrict participants’ ability to chat amongst one another while your event is going on and cut back on distractions. Click “Chat” in the meeting controls, then at the bottom of the in-meeting Zoom Group Chat window click the three dots. From there you can toggle on options for who can chat with who in your meeting.
- Report a user: Hosts can report users to Zoom’s Trust & Safety team, who will review any potential misuse of the platform and take appropriate action. Find this option within our Security icon, where you can attach screenshots and other documentation as needed.
Try the Waiting Room
The Waiting Room is an important feature for securing a Zoom Meeting. 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
We hope these tips will help you continue to host safe and successful events using our platform. Whether it’s a happy hour or a yoga session — help make your event go as planned by taking advantage of Zoom’s security features.
Editor’s note: This post was updated from the original March 20th version to include the most up-to-date information on preventing disruptions.