Zooming around the world

By Hugh Maynard, IFAJ Global Manager

It’s quite likely, thanks to our not-so-welcome friend COVID, that you have recently participated in online meetings or webinars using the Zoom platform. 

As pandemic lockdowns began around the world in March 2020, Zoom was the right tool at the right time. It’s easy to use, low cost and runs well even with lower bandwidth. As a result, Zoom went from 10 million to 200 million users in the space of three months.

IFAJ had already switched to the Zoom platform before the rush and has been successfully using the software for meetings and webinars since. IFAJ has recently beefed up the service it offers to member guilds with space for up to 300 participants and optional features such as simultaneous translation and real-time transcription for captions and note-taking.

If your guild wants to organize an online meeting or webinar, the IFAJ Zoom platform is available free of charge. Reservations can be made by contacting globaloffice@ifaj.org, or filling out our online form, and the Global Office can also provide support to help you set up your meeting or event.

 

A few things to think about

If you’ve used Zoom before, you’ve also probably heard the term “zoombombing”, an incident where an unwelcome guest barges into a zoom meeting and acts inappropriately. It’s not a fun thing to have happen and upsetting for all concerned. Following are a few tips, whether using the IFAJ or your own Zoom account, to keep your events secure and well organized.

 

Not on social media

Do not under any circumstances distribute a Zoom meeting link using social media. A social media post can go around the world and back again in seconds, giving easy access to every misfit intent on reaping havoc on unsuspecting meetings. By all means promote your event on social media but only provide a website or registration link so you can filter out unwanted participants.

 

Registration

One way to keep control is to use the Zoom integrated registration feature which allows you to see, and if you want, approve who will be joining the meeting. It’s a bit of extra administration on your part but worth it if you’re publicizing your event beyond a small number of participants (i.e. an invitation to all members). And you can download the list of registrants in an excel file to check off participants as they roll in.

 

Password please?

Zoom requires that all sessions have either a passcode and/or the waiting room feature activated as security measures to control access to meetings and events. We suggest that you do not activate just the basic passcode by itself as it provides very limited security. Always use the basic passcode in conjunction with the waiting room feature. If you do not want the waiting room feature (someone has to let all those people in!) then there are more advanced and more secure passcode options for zoom, but they are more technical to set up and buried deep in the vault of Zoom settings. So contact the Global Office for assistance and we can help you select and activate the best and most secure option for your meeting.

 

Manage your waiting room

The waiting room feature in Zoom is exactly as it says—a holding pen for participants waiting to join the meeting, giving you the luxury of reviewing everyone before allowing them to be admitted. You can even communicate with them using the chat function if you’re not sure who they are.

 

Dynamic duo

Lastly, if you’re having a meeting, webinar or online event with more than 20 participants, it’s a good idea to have two organizers present: one to chair the meeting, make announcements, welcome participants and generally direct traffic, and the other to provide technical support such as admit participants from the waiting room, monitor the chat box, resolve connection and audio problems and make sure the Powerpoints and videos are all working properly on the screen. It’s a lot less stressful for the primary organizer and ensures that your events run as smoothly as possible.

 

So, if you need Zoom for a board meeting or a webinar or a panel discussion, contact globaloffice@ifaj.org for a reservation, or use the online form, to receive assistance with setting up a secure and successful event. Happy zooming!