Handling Online Meeting Disruptions in the Moment

Sadly, as many of you have experienced, people have disrupted online meetings in our fellowship. While we may not be able to completely stop them, here are few tips provided by fellows* who have been dealing with these online meeting disruptors. 

You must have Host or Co-Host access to take action on these suggestions. If you are not a meeting host, then send a link to this page to the secretary or host so they can take action.

Note: Some controls may look different for your version of Zoom. Before your next meeting,  review to Zoom instructions and find your computer or device type at the bottom of the page to access specific instructions.

First Things First: Review Manage Meeting Participants Instructions to Ensure Zoom is Setup for Meeting Safety.

Before the meeting,  do what you can to Manage Meeting Participants and setup  Zoom settings for attendee safety.  For example, before the meeting begins, elect a co-host whose role is to shoulder the weight of maintaining order during the online meeting by managing the participants. Read more>

The new Zoom update (as of 4/8/2020) brings a new “Security ” window in the host tool bar. Please review this update from Zoom

Remove the Offending Participant

This action will kick the attendee off the call and keep them from coming back under the same account.

security toolbar

  1. Go to the Security window at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Select “Remove Participant”
  3. Find the name of the offending participant by either by scrolling or searching in the  window. If you don’t see the Security icon, click on Manage Participants and find the meeting disrupter and click “More”.

Stop a Participant’s Video

This function will immediately turn off the disruptive attendee’s video. 

  1. Go to the Manage Participants window at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Click on “More” 
  3. Click on “Stop Video.”

Participants list

Turn Off Participants Ability to Mute/Unmute Themselves

This function will keep disruptive attendee from being able to unmute themselves and interrupt the meeting verbally. It will also mean the host and co-host will have to manually unmute each speaker.

  1. Go to the Manage Participants window at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Click on “More.”
  3. Uncheck “Allow Participants to Unmute Themselves”

Allow participants to unmute themselves

Prevent Participants From Renaming Themselves

If people are using this function to have offensive slurs and violent words visible on the Participants window, you can uncheck this option to prevent them from showing renaming.

  1. Go to the Manage Participants window at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Click on “More.”
  3. Click on “Allow Participants to Rename Themselves” and make sure the check mark is removed so the function is turned off.

Turn Off Chat

This function keeps disruptive attendees from being able to send offensive messages via chat.

  • Go to the Manage Participants window at the bottom of the screen. 
  • Click on the “…” button.
  • Select  “Participants can chat with: host only”

Stop Chat

Lock the Meeting

After an attendee has been removed from the meeting or a meeting ended and restarted, the disruptive attendees can return under a new account. Thus, you may need to Lock the Room to disable any new people to join.

  1. Go to the Manage Participants window at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Click on “More.”
  3. Select “Lock Meeting.”

Lock the Meeting

After the meeting, consider looking at Zoom Waiting Rooms to allow an alternative to locking meetings.

Considerations on What Not To Do:

  • Your group does not have to tolerate or make excuses for the behavior of the disrupting individuals. Each group is well within their rights  to remove the disruptor, just as a group might at a face-to-face meeting. Read the AA Pamphlet on Safety and AA: Our Common Welfare.
  • Online meeting disruptors use the anonymity of the internet to abuse people, promote violence, and create insecurity, not just in AA meetings, but everywhere. Their acts are harmful to victims. While we cannot stop them completely, we can do our part by not invalidating or excusing the harmful experience of our fellows.
  • If this happens to your group, hold a business meeting and take a group conscience after the call to decompress and discuss how to handle the situation should it happen again. This will likely be more productive than sharing of opinions on how to handle the situation with a flood of chat messages or private chats to the meeting hosts. Refer to Managing Meeting Participants on guidelines for how to set up your meeting for safety.
  • Each group has been empowered with instructions on this site’s home page for best practices. A perfect world, it is not, but this is life on life’s terms.    

*A huge thank you to Arlin for sharing her tips with Central Office.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Intercounty Fellowship of A.A.