by GSCA Member, Jackie Simmons

Keeping safe in a virtual world includes avoiding . . . “Virtual Pollution,” especially in our meetings!

For years we’ve been aware of the dangers of air pollution. And then, with the upsurge of headphone use, we became aware of the dangers of noise pollution. Now, we have the danger of virtual pollution.

Virtual pollution comes in many forms that have been with us a while: fake news, distracting cat antics, and infomercial marathons to name just a few.

But there’s a new form of Virtual Pollution showing up in our online education/networking space and it’s contaminating a lot of otherwise useful content.

Hosting virtual meetings can be a logistical challenge under any circumstances. Microphones can go out, internet can get flaky, images can freeze, but none of those challenges beat what’s happening in zoom meetings…

Last week my friend Lauren, (our speaker this month) was hosting 100 attorneys in a Zoom Room. The topic: Federal Funds and How to Access Them… everyone was engaged and then, her virtual meeting became first a circus, and then a nightmare.

During the meeting, her screen was hijacked by an uninvited attendee and they started showing porn.

Fast on her feet (technically) Lauren was able to “remove” them from the meeting and then “lock” it so they couldn’t return, but the damage was done. And while the meeting continued, the recordings were useless…

Since the GSCA will be using Zoom Meetings for our “virtual luncheons” and I host networking events via Zoom Meetings, I wanted to protect our community, so I reached out to one of my mentors, for some security tips.

Here are Iman Aghay’s Top Three Settings All Zoom Meeting* Hosts Need To Know…

*If you are using Zoom webinars you are much safer than using Zoom meetings. However, Zoom webinar is not two-way interactive video/audio and so it may not be what you need. It’s also more expensive than Zoom meetings.

If you’re using Zoom meetings, pay attention to these three things:

  1. A very important security check. The zoom link you are using should not include a “\” (back slash) no web link should include that character. Legitimate web links include a “/” (forward slash) ONLY. If the link you see includes a “\” DO NOT USE IT. The “\” will give hackers access to remote control your computer.
  2. In your Zoom settings under “Share Screen” select “Only Allow Hosts to Share Screen.” This prevents unauthorized people from sharing their screens and protects you, and your attendees from unwanted images.
  3. Keep your zoom window in regular “maximize” view mode, not “full screen” mode, and open both the “chat” and the “manage participants” windows. This will allow you to see the participants, their names, and the chat on the right-hand side of your screen at all times.

If an audience member is un-muted, their name jumps to the top of the manage participants list. This way you can quickly mute them if needed. And if they are disruptive you can kick them out by clicking on the “more” option at the end of their name and “remove” them from the meeting. Depending on your settings, they will not be able to rejoin the meeting from that zoom name.

To Iman’s three tips, I’m adding two more suggestions:

  1. Don’t be afraid to “lock” the meeting if you’re recording content. No one new will be able to enter and this prevents hackers you’ve removed from rejoining from a different zoom account.
  2. Be patient with yourself as a host, and with everyone else who’s wiling to host online meetings, as we muddle our way through the many ways of connecting in a virtual world.