Zoom's new Focus Mode highlights meeting host and hides other participants

The host can see everyone's video but the feeds are hidden from participants to reduce distraction in a classroom setting.

zoom focus mode

Zoom has add a Focus Mode in its latest release that allows the host to display only his or her video to help meeting participants focus on the lecture or presentation.

Image: Zoom

If you spend your Zoom meetings checking out the other participants instead of listening to the presenter, the company has a new feature to reduce those distractions. Focus Mode is designed for online classrooms, but it could come in handy for the work world, too. A meeting host or a teacher can see all participant videos, but participants can see only the host.

This extends to screen sharing as well. According to the blog post, the Focus Mode is designed with teachers in mind. With this feature, teachers can supervise their classes, but students won't be distracted by video feeds from other students or feel self-conscious about turning on their own camera. 

This new feature is part of a larger release available Wednesday that includes improvements to the Phone dashboard, the chat function and the Zoom Phone feature. The release also includes the ability to move a meeting from the mobile version to the desktop and the ability to limit screen sharing with guest participants. 

Zoom has updated the chat function as well, including clear markers that indicate whether a channel is public or private and the ability to expand the chat sidebar to see more chats and channels.

SEE: Zoom Phone hits 1 million user mark after only 2 years in business (TechRepublic) 

The Zoom phone dashboard updates include:

  • Privacy feature for shared lines: When members of a shared line group and a shared line appearance turn on the privacy feature, this feature prevents others from picking up a held call, listening, whispering, barging in or taking over the call.
  • More call queue visibility: Enhancements to the admin dashboard improve visibility into metrics associated with call queues and provide account owners and admins with the ability to view the top 10 extensions by call usage or minutes usage.
  • Granular control of call monitoring privileges: Account owners and admins can now select specific privileges to customize call monitoring groups.

Zoom's Phone feature has grown quickly since its launch in 2019. When existing Zoom customers add the phone service, a new tab appears in the familiar interface. Customers can choose to record every call by default or record only select calls. Zoom Phone added a FedRAMP offering earlier this year and has services designed for healthcare providers as well.

Finally, the IT team can use the new admin tools in this release to manage account settings, groups, group settings and contacts from one place. All customers will move to this new version in October.  

The release notes cover the changes in detail.

zoom focus mode presenter only

When the focus mode is on, meeting participants or students see only the teacher and co-host's video feeds.

Image: Zoom

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...