Make Zoom Lively

Moderate and overlay like Twitch and Instagram

There's finally a way to delete Zoom Chat messages and moderate a lively conversation right on the big screen. Suddenly, it's safe to turn on the chat in a presenter-centered meeting, turning a room of disengaged black boxes to become even more lively than in-person. Moderated Zoom Chat transforms online classrooms, company meetings, worship congregations, and more.

Why?

People like to express themselves. That's hard when you're in the audience, and can't tell that anyone is paying attention to you. Maybe that's why listeners tune out of webinars. Lively moderated text chat changes the game. Suddenly, it is even easier to speak up. Text adds a new channel parallel to the audio and video of the presenter. The interactive discussion highlighted on the big screen draws viewers' attention, because it contains their voice (or the voice of a fellow viewer). Similar psychology drives engagement in popular live video streaming platforms. Now you can use this power in your next Zoom meeting.

How can you moderate Zoom Chat?

It only takes 10 minutes to set up. It works on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Here are quick and easy Mac and Windows walkthrough videos.

Mac


Windows

If you prefer written instructions...

1. Go to Zoom Settings, logging in with your Zoom account if necessary. Search the page for "Group HD video" in the "In Meeting (Advanced)" section, and make sure it's on.

2. Install the free OBS Studio. (It will also let you make lots of other special effects too.)

3. Start OBS Studio. If it asks you if you'd like to auto-configure, choose the option that says you're only using the virtual camera, or click Cancel. Then go to Settings, and in the Video tab, set both your base and output canvas resolutions to 1280x720. That's because Zoom only uses 720p video.

4. Use the + button under Sources to add your webcam as a Video Capture Source. Press the "Start Virtual Camera" button.

5. Use Zoom to join your meeting as the Host. Click on the ^ near your webcam button at the bottom, and pick "OBS Virtual Camera". You should see yourself.

6. Click on the green shield on the top left. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner of the box that pops up, to go to Zoom Settings. In the "Video" tab, make sure you have your OBS Virtual Camera picked, and make sure you have the "HD" option selected, but the "Mirror my video" option unselected. (If mirroring is on, all the words will look backwards to you, although they'll transmit correctly to your viewers.)

7. Click on the Chat button at the bottom. Press the "⋯" button on the bottom left of the Chat window, and choose "Participant Can Chat With: Host and co-hosts".

8. Click on the green shield on the top left. Copy the Zoom Meeting Number and Passcode into the form below. You can keep the random room and password settings already filled in for our Chat Moderation, or you can choose your own values. Don't use any of your regular passwords there, because people might see your Chat Moderation Room and Password in your web address bar. It's OK if you forget the password, because this system is not designed to work with any data for more than 2 minutes. You can always make a new room and password and start again.

Zoom Meeting Link:

Chat Moderation Room:

Chat Moderation Password:

Email (only if Webinar):

9. Click on "Join Zoom". That will open a new browser tab. Click the blue "Join" button, and once you're in the meeting, ignore that tab (but don't close it until after the meeting's over). It will automatically relay messages for moderation. Note: If you made your Zoom meeting require authentication to join, you will be prompted to authorize the "Zoom Web SDK Helper" app. That's an app created by Zoom itself, and it is what lets a web client join the meeting. Depending on your organization's settings, you might need to request for this app to have access by clicking on a button on the screen. It's best if you also write an email to your organization's Zoom administration team to ask them to please authorize this app, in case they don't get notified of your request by Zoom.

10. Click on this button to open the Moderation page in a new tab.

11. Go back to your normal Zoom app where you're the Host. Click on the "Participants" button and add "Chat Relay" as a Co-Host.

12. In your normal Zoom app, click on the Chat button, and click on the "To:" button to select "Chat Relay" from the menu. Type any message and send it.

13. Switch to the tab with the Moderation page. You should see your message going up the right column of the screen!

14. Click on this button to copy the Projection link. This is what you'll be copying to your clipboard: /display?room=undefined&password=undefined

15. Go back to OBS Studio. Use the + button under Sources to add a Browser with dimensions 900x200. Paste what you just copied into the "URL" line, and press "OK".

16. Everything is set up! Test it by going to your normal Zoom app, and sending any message to "Chat Relay". Go to your Moderation tab, and watch the message go all the way up the right side. Then you will see it magically appear on your video feed in Zoom for everyone to see!

17. Tell your meeting participants to send their messages to "Chat Relay" whenever they want something to go onto the big screen.

Notes

1. We (technically, Expii, Inc.) are operating this technology for anyone to use for free. We make no warranties or guarantees, so please do not rely on it to operate a nuclear power plant.

2. After each message is displayed on screen, there is a small probability that a tasteful attribution message will be displayed, acknowleding that this system was made by us, and shared for the world to use. That probability is currently 1/128.

3. The overlaid chat messages only appear on the video feed you send out to others. So, this works best if you Spotlight yourself in Zoom, so that your video is full screen for everyone else.

4. At least one person must have the Moderation Page open in order for messages to automatically flow from the Chat Relay Zoom browser tab to the Projection displayed in any OBS Studio Browser source.

5. If you are sharing the stage with multiple main speakers, and each of you adds a Browser source in OBS pointing to the same Projection link above, then as you take turns speaking, the chat will still be visible no matter which of you are speaking. Only one of you should make "Chat Relay" join Zoom.

6. Don't use Zoom's "Share Screen" to share your screen. Instead, create a new "Scene" in OBS Studio where you add a "Display Capture" source which is the screen you want to share. Then, whenever you want to share your screen, just click on that Scene in OBS Studio, and it will automatically change what you're sending to Zoom.

7. If you want to play a video with sound to your viewers, that's also possible. You will need to set up OBS Studio to route your sound to a virtual audio device, and select that as the microphone input in Zoom. We have successfully done this. On Mac, we use BlackHole. On Windows, it looks like people are having success with VB-CABLE.

8. OBS Studio is really powerful. You can get fancy with it, and put yourself into that scene too, by adding the webcam feed to that scene too. You can even add a whiteboard overlaid on top. This is how Po-Shen Loh makes his teaching videos.

9. Our programs encrypt all chat messages on your side before sending them to our server, using the "Chat Moderation Password" that you entered above. Furthermore, your Zoom meeting number and Zoom password are never sent to our servers, and our servers only use your Chat Moderation Password to open your initial connection to us (they do not store your Chat Moderation Password). Your web browsers keep track of all of your passwords, and use them to encrypt and decrypt messages they receive from our servers. Therefore, our servers only contain encrypted messages without passwords. Please do not ever send us any of your passwords, because we don't want the liability of having access to your conversations. If you send us any communications containing your passwords, we will delete the communications without replying to you.

10. If you encounter any issues, please feel free to email us at support@poshenloh.com. We'd like to help make this as robust as possible.

11. All of this is sponsored by the Daily Challenge with Po-Shen Loh. We created this system to make our live online classes more engaging. If you are curious, our classes are designed for ambitious middle school students seeking math challenges beyond the curricular level. They're led by pairs of brilliant high schoolers using improvisational comedy techniques to interact with students, weaving in footage of Po-Shen Loh's own teaching in a lifelike manner. We have found that this live chat moderation tool makes classes really fun, and it has transformed the learning experience for our students. We hope you enjoy it too.

12. If you are curious who Po-Shen Loh is, he is a social entrepreneur and inventor who has dabbled in a few things that occasionally made the news.