Keeping out unwanted Zoom participants


As more people use Zoom to host their virtual events, we wanted to offer up tips to ensure that 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 public. Anyone with the link can join your meeting if you don’t require a password.
  • Avoid using your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host public events. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting and you don’t want random people crashing your personal virtual space. 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 a very helpful feature for hosts to control who comes and goes. 

Manage your participants

Use these features to secure your Zoom event and host with confidence:

  • Lock the meeting: 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, select Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the Participants pop-up, select  Lock Meeting
  • Remove unwanted or disruptive participants: From the Participants menu, you can mouse over a participant’s name and several options will appear, including Remove
  • Allow removed participants to rejoin: When you do remove someone, they can’t rejoin the meeting using the same email address. But you can change your settings to allow removed participants to rejoin, in case you removed the wrong person.  
  • Prevent participants from screen sharing: In the host controls, select  the arrow next to Share Screen and select Advanced Sharing Options. Under Who can share? choose Only Host and close the window. 
  • Put them on hold: If you need a private moment, you can put everyone else on hold, and the attendees’ video and audio connections will be disabled momentarily. Select someone’s video thumbnail and select Start Attendee On Hold to activate this feature. Select 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.
  • 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 reduce unwanted noise 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 among one another while your event is going on and cut back on distractions. This is 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. 

Meeting hosts can customize Waiting Room settings for additional control, and you can personalize the message people see when they hit the Waiting Room so they know they’re in the right spot. This message is a good spot to post any rules/guidelines for your event, like whom it’s intended for (See Figure 1). The Waiting Room is a great way to see who’s trying to enter your virtual event and keep unwanted guests out.

Waiting Room message

Figure 1: Waiting room introduction message

Modified on: Tue, Jan 31, 2023 at 12:47 PM

Did you find it helpful?

Can't find the information you need?

Help us improve the site.