Ever sat through a meeting and got super distracted by participants tuning in or adjusting their tech? Or a webinar where anyone could jump in with a question and halt the host’s presentation?

Muting and unmuting participants in a meeting is the solution to keeping unwanted noises at bay, maintaining sharp audio in case you’re recording a meeting, and ensuring all participants can hear the speaker correctly.

In Zoom, there’s dozens of ways of doing this to ensure the muting options are suited to their specific needs. And we’re having a look at every single option for you to guarantee a distraction-free meeting environment.

Here’s a run through how to mute Zoom meeting participants and when to give them the freedom to do so at their own will: 

How to mute yourself on Zoom

First, here are some situations when you might want to mute yourself during a Zoom meeting:

  • In transit for unexpected meetings on a train ride which can result in a noisy background environment
  • If you’ve been interrupted or are expecting an interruption during the meeting
  • Whenever there are external noises that could distract the other participants
  • If you’re just listening to a webinar, event, or presentation and know you won’t have to contribute
  • In case the host has asked participants to mute their microphones until the end

To mute yourself [works for both participants and hosts], head over to the meeting’s toolbar and click on Mute [the microphone icon] and then Unmute to turn your mic back on:

You can also use the Alt+A keyboard shortcut to mute and subsequently unmute your mic.

If you joined a call via your phone, dial *6 to set your phone on mute your phone. Dial *6 again to unmute yourself.

You can automatically start on mute when you join a specific meeting by selecting Do not connect to audio before the start of the meeting:

To always start the Zoom meeting with your microphone turned off, head to Settings, Audio, and select Always mute microphone when joining meeting:

Note: If you’re already on Mute, hold the spacebar to temporarily unmute yourself when you want to give quick feedback or ask a question. This quick hack ensures you won’t leave your mic on after you’re done.

Muting yourself while keeping the computer’s audio on

I’ve recently been taking part in some online co-working sessions. The host has to mute herself when it’s time for deep work but she leaves the audio on her computer audio so she can play music. The same applies if you want to play a video or audio snippet and don’t want the mic to pick up your sounds.

To get this to work, set yourself on Mute and mark the Share sound option when starting your screen sharing session:

Now guests will see your screen and hear the audio on your own computer even if you’re on mute.

Blocking out background noises and echoes during live meetings or recordings

Avoid distractions, why it’s tedious to keep muting/unmuting yourself when background noises start disturbing the meeting

Zoom does have a noise suppression option that lowers background sounds like keyboard typing or dogs barking. Go to your Settings, select Audio, and scroll to the Suppress background noise section to make your selection:

The problem is that these four levels of the Zoom noise cancellation feature don’t block out all types of noises simultaneously. For instance, even if you opt for the Auto setting, it only applies moderate background noise reduction so the chance for some sounds to go unnoticed is high. Your best bet would be to go for the High level but this will take up a lot of CPU power.

The same situation applies with the levels for echo cancellation under the Advanced audio settings:

So if you’re tired of pausing your recordings because of construction work going on around your house or you simply don’t want noise to disrupt an important conversation, try Krisp instead. 

The app automatically removes all background noises and echoes so your team won’t get distracted or misunderstand what you’re saying. If you’re a podcast host or YouTuber, you can record studio-like interviews through the built-in HD voice feature. No extra equipment required.

This will instantly solve the “everybody-go-on-mute” problem. No need for anyone to Mute themselves on Zoom when they use Krisp.

The best part is that Krisp removes the background noises on both ends of a meeting. So if you’re hosting a webinar and taking questions, you won’t have to worry about not understanding the attendee because their fan is on. Krisp will clear up the background noises on their end too. All this with minimal CPU usage if you turn on the low power mode.

Here’s how to connect Zoom to Krisp in less than one minute:

How to mute all participants in Zoom

Webinars. Presentations. Conferences. Co-working sessions. Team meetings.

All of these events have a host who’s not exactly going to enjoy the occasional interruption.

That’s why in Zoom hosts have the freedom to decide who can speak and who should be on mute during a call.

Got too much noise on one channel? 

As a host, you can handpick a specific participant either because they’re disturbing the Zoom call or they might simply prefer to stay on mute but don’t know how to do it. Go to the list of participants [in the toolbar] and you should be able to mute/unmute individuals manually:

From the same screen, you can choose to Mute All participants. Make sure you don’t leave the Allow Participants to Unmute Themselves option on if you don’t want people to jump in during your presentation. 

Remember you can always change this setting at any point during the Zoom meeting. So if you’re taking questions at the end of a webinar, head over to the three settings dots on the right side of the Mute All option. Select Ask All to Unmute to send a message to every participant when it’s ok to unmute themselves. 

You can also have everyone start the meeting on mute. When scheduling a meeting, select Mute participants upon entry from the Advanced Options:

Example: If you’re hosting a webinar, you might want everyone on mute throughout the session but still let them unmute their audio later when they have a question.

Getting consent to mute a Zoom meeting participant

For obvious legal and ethical reasons, Zoom hosts can’t unmute a participant if the latter haven’t given their consent. This is why the first option to unmute someone is to Ask All to Unmute and send the pop-up request:

An alternative is to go to your In Meeting (Advanced) settings and turn on the Request permission to unmute option. 

Now the option will appear every time you want to schedule a meeting:

With this in place, when a host wants to unmute someone, the participant will receive a message prompting them to allow the host to unmute at any time. 

Tip: Paid plans allow you to group participants and establish this request only for specific groups. This lets you send the pop-up consent request only to people you’ve selected beforehand. 

Once a participant has allowed the host to unmute them, they won’t be asked this a second time. So for every meeting scheduled by the same host that got the initial approval, the participant can have their microphone unmuted when needed.

What if a participant wants to revoke consent for this? 

They can go to the Audio settings and manage/remove the hosts that received approval from the People who can unmute you section. 

Final best practices on how to mute Zoom meetings

As a general rule, remember it’s best to have your participants start the meeting on mute. This prevents the meeting from starting when they’re not ready or still caught up with talking to their family. 

Keep a general list of best practices to share with participants or display as your virtual background. Make it a rule for your team members or event attendees to mute themselves whenever they’re not speaking. Also, decide how a participant can get the host’s attention. They could virtually raise their hand, leave a message in the chat box, or directly unmute themselves.

Another super common situation is for speakers to forget they’re on mute. A host’s first instinct should be to tell the speaker that the other participants can’t hear them. Only resort to asking them to unmute via a pop-up if they missed your first cue.

And don’t worry too much about background noises. Turn on Krisp and let it do its job so you can focus on your call instead and rest assured that your audio will be of top quality.

Don’t forget to read our full list of Zoom tips you can use to host and record the perfect meeting or event.