Group Chairs and Meeting Hosts of Online Meetings

Online meetings are a great way to reach the addict who is unable to attend a physical meeting due to distance, time, or availability. They can also create concerns about the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions – anonymity. Please consider these best practices for protecting anonymity. They have been created from the experience of fellowships around the world. If you have any questions or concerns or would like assistance starting an online meeting, please contact us.

While there are multiple virtual platforms available, we will use Zoom as an example because it is the most used by local fellowships. Most other platforms have settings that are similar. The concepts described here will apply to most platforms.

Depending on the size and format of the meeting it may be prudent to have one or more co-hosts. Co-hosts, in general, have the same meeting controls as the host, with the exception that they cannot promote other participants to co-host. Co-hosts can only be designated by the host once the meeting has started. Co-hosts can help moderate the meeting, mute and unmute participants if necessary, share their screen and remove participants from the meeting. They can lower hands if a participant forgets to do so when they are done.

The following features could impact anonymity. They are found in the Settings section of the Zoom account web portal of the account that has scheduled the meeting. The setting is listed with a suggested setting.

  • Meeting
    • Schedule Meeting
      • Participants video – Disabled – Enabling this will force participants’ video on when they join. They will have to manually turn off the video once they have entered the meeting.
    • In Meeting (Basic)
      • Prevent participants from saving chat – Checked – This will prevent anything said during the meeting from being saved by the participants when the meeting has concluded. This will prevent things such as phone numbers, email addresses, and names from being saved in text format on their computer.
      • Auto saving chats – Disabled – This feature will automatically save chats from the meeting on the hosts computer when the meeting is ended. See previous explenation.
      • Screen Sharing – Host Only – Screen sharing is often used for putting readings on the screen for all participants to view. This allows participants to participate the way they have in in-person meetings, by reading. Anyone designated a Co-host can also share their screen with this set to Host Only. We suggest you designate those needing special permission only as Co-Host.
      • Allow participants to rename themselves – Enabled – By default, if a user has a Zoom account and is signed in, their full name will be used in the Participant’s window. Allowing them to rename themselves will allow them to change to first name last initial, as well as indicate details such as where they are from.
      • Hide participant profile pictures in a meeting – No suggestion – If this is disabled, for participants who have selected a profile picture, that picture will be displayed when their video is turned off.
  • Recording
    • Local recording – Unchecked – Enabling this will allow hosts to give permission to participants to save local copies of the meeting. This includes chat, video, and audio. While you must explicitly give this permission, disabling this setting will prevent you from accidentally giving this permission to someone.
    • Cloud recording – Disable – Again, disabling this can prevent any accidental recording that may be initiated.
    • Automatic Recording – Disabled – If this is enabled, recording will start automatically without any interaction from the host.

There are several meeting options that can help secure your meeting and prevent unwanted “Zoom Bombers” from entering your room and distracting the meeting. They are found in the Settings section of the Zoom account web portal of the account that has scheduled the meeting. These are for your consideration, with minimal suggestions. Please note that some of these settings are NOT the Zoom default.

  • Meetings
    • Security
      • Waiting Room – If enabled, all participants who join your meeting will be sent to the waiting room until you manually admit them, one at a time. When they join the host will receive a notification with the participant’s name.
      • Meeting Passcode – If enabled, after the user enters the meeting ID they will be prompted for the passcode. A link can also be generated which includes an encrypted password. This link can be posted online or in an email. Participants who click on the link will enter the meeting directly.
      • Require passcode for participants joining by phone – This will require that someone dialing in enter the meeting passcode after entering the meeting ID. This can be disabled even if the meeting passcode is enabled.
      • Embed passcode in invite link for one-click join – This must be enabled if you want to use the one-click link mentioned above.
      • Only authenticated users can join meetings – Disabled – If enabled, this will require that users have registered Zoom accounts. This could impact anonymity.
    • In Meeting (Basic)
      • Annotation – If this is enabled, any time someone is sharing the screen participants can draw on or highlight the screen. This will be visible by all participants.