Tips for Host-less Zoom Meetings

An updated version of this post, with more Zoom meeting tips, is available at

During this COVID-19 season, many meetings are being held online via Zoom. It’s not just work meetings, many social gatherings are being hosted online too. Free Zoom accounts have a limit of 40 minutes for three or more participants. For longer meetings of larger groups, at least one member of your group needs a paid account. Let’s call this paying member your group’s Zoom Admin.

With just one account, your group can have any number of participants with no time limit. Any member of your group can also request the Zoom Admin to setup a meeting for a subset of the group or another group of friends. The Zoom Admin need not attend for the meeting to go on.

Here’s how to do this. The Zoom Admin needs to change the meeting settings to:

  • Enable join before host so the meeting can proceed without the Zoom Admin
  • Disable mute participants upon entry – otherwise participants cannot start the meeting unless the Zoom Admin unmutes them. If the Zoom Admin doesn’t join, then the meeting can’t start.
  • Disable waiting room so that meeting participants don’t wait forever if the Zoom Admin doesn’t join.

Here’s the screenshot for how to setup a meeting for any group of friends or friends-of-friends where the Zoom Admin is not attending.

Another important feature to enable for host-less Zoom meetings is screen sharing. By default, only the host can screen share. If the host is not going to attend the meeting, then you need to allow all participants to share their screens. You change this from your Personal Settings and it applies to all meetings.

  • Set who can share to All Participants
  • Set who can start sharing when someone else is sharing to All Participants
  • Important: do Not disable desktop/screen share for users i.e. make sure that this option is greyed out.

Since these settings apply to all your meetings, remember to change them back to your preferred settings once you return from vacation and can continue to host the meetings you scheduled.

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