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Safety First

For hybrid and remote meetings, the most important thing to consider is the safety and security and your meeting. "Zoom Bombing" became a thing in 2020, and disrupted thousands of remote meetings. Google Meets, Webex and Zoom all have ways to combat this - we'll talk about some of those here.

The easiest and first step is to create your meeting with a Waiting Room. All three platforms have default settings you can change so that you would have to turn off waiting rooms to avoid them. Once your meeting is public, we suggest utilizing the waiting room feature. It does take more work - no one can enter the meeting until a host or co-host allows them in. Even if you don't know who someone is, they can be let in. More importantly, they can be sent back to the waiting room if they disrupt the meeting

Other easy things to do are to turn off the whiteboard function; disable screen sharing; and make co-hosts. Making a co-host sounds obvious, but the co-host can perform a valuable function in keeping your meeting safe from interlopers. While the host is concentrating on running the meeting, a co-host can be looking out for those who shouldn't be in the meeting; can ask those with phone numbers or unrecognized names who they are and change their display name; can virtually ask meeting attendees to turn on their cameras so they are easier to identify; and, can move users in and out of the waiting room.

Speaking of cameras - one of the easiest things is to require attendees of meetings to have their cameras on, especially as they enter a meeting. Everyone has a reason to turn their cameras off at some point, but knowing who the attendees are is a critical way to keep the meeting safe. The best way to know who attendees are is to have a visual of them, even if it is only for a short time.

Within the meeting, another way to control the meeting is to control the chat options. Is everyone allowed to chat? With each other, or just with the host? Aside from the obvious risks of "bombing" with the chat wide open, the chat can also distracting to users. On the other hand, it allows hosts and co-hosts more opportunities to ask attendees to identify themselves, turn on their cameras, etc. Those running a meeting need to determine the best approach based on the purpose of the meeting and the experience with those in the meeting.

Going back to before your meeting even occurs - the distribution of the link is important. If it's a smaller meeting, send the link only to those who are expected to be in the meeting. Registration can be required in advance - another way to control who enters the meeting. That also provides you a way to track people later. And, use a search engine now and then to see if your meeting is out there anywhere you didn't expect. If it is, do some work to try to determine how it got there. Is there an attendee who seems to always be in meetings that get hijacked? Maybe only send that person the link much closer to the meeting time to see if that makes a differnce.

The BEST way, however, to keep your meeting safe is to not have a meeting, but instead use the Webinar feature. This feature does have an added cost - but, it allows Participants and Attendees. Think of the participants as those on stage at a large meeting. And, attendees as those in the audience. The difference is that attendees cannot be seen on camera; and, cannot speak in the webinar. But, we'll go more into webinars in our next post. In the meantime, stay safe and stay connected!

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