By: Karla J. Eckardt, Practice Management Advisor
Whether it’s regularly scheduled meetings with colleagues at your firm or meetings with clients, virtual meetings have become a vital and necessary adjustment to the way we conduct business during these trying times. One of the more ubiquitous virtual conference platforms we’ve all been using lately is Zoom. Zoom allows teams to make/receive calls, video conference, conduct webinars and collaborate any time, on any device.
First things first, let’s briefly address the elephant in the virtual room. Yes, Zoom has recently been the subject of negative headlines concerning issues about its privacy and security. However, the important takeaway is CEO Eric Yuan’s, April 1st statement outlining how the company is addressing these issues going forward. You may also want to read Zoom’s most recent 90-Day Security Plan Progress Report as well as other important announcements.
This guidance is by no means an endorsement of Zoom over other platforms. There are other secure alternatives you may wish to use instead. With COVID-19 continuing to impact people and countries around the world, Microsoft is offering its secure Teams app for free. If you use G Suite, Google Meet is another secure video conferencing alternative. However, if you continue to use Zoom, we suggest you adhere to its best practices and follow its guidance on How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event:
When hosting 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 enable or disable PMIs.
- 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.)
Manage screen sharing
- Don’t give control of your screen! 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
- 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.
Zoom has compiled resources to help you use Zoom more effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic onto one page which includes:
Blog: How to Work from Home and Meet Like a Pro
Blog: Best Practices for Creating Culture, Community for Remote Workers
Blog: 5 Tips for Managing Remote Teams
How to Hide Your Messy Room for a Zoom Video Conference
5 Tips for Working From Home for the First Time in 2020
How to Set Up a Temporary Work From Home Office Successfully