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Hey folks. So I have a webinar coming up. The event itself starts at 6:30, but panelists show up at 6 to make sure everything is good to go. Participants also join the meeting early, but I'd like to find a way to ensure that the panelists can speak in private until the actual start of the event. I've considered a waiting room but I'm also not entirely sure how to go about this. It would be best if everyone could join whenever they want, but participants cannot hear panelists until it's time for it to actually start.
When you start the webinar, attendees are not yet permitted to enter until you click the blue Start Webinar button. Leave the attendees “outside” waiting, while you and the panelists chat and make sure everyone is ready. Then — usually about 5 minutes before the scheduled Webinar – click the blue button and attendees will start to flow in. I like having some interesting video and background music playing, usually with a countdown timer so everyone knows when the Webinar will get started.
There is one more option to consider. Zoom has introduced Webinar with Backstage. It is only available if you have a Zoom Events license, which at the 500 attendee level is only $20 more per month. With Backstage, panelists and other non-speaking and support folks can be in something that resembles a breakout room, but has a small “viewing screen” to allow you to hear and see the live presentation that’s “Onstage”. (Note: “Onstage and Backstage” are my own terms for the two parts of the Webinar. For some reason Zoom called them “Webinar and Backstage”, and therefore the term “Webinar” is ambiguous and confusing in my opinion. I’m hoping Zoom will adopt my terminology!)
There are still a few limitations to Webinar with Backstage, but Zoom is working on fixes to them. In general I’d say you need both a host and a cohost to work the event in this case, as the folks Backstage cannot talk to the folks Onstage. If your presenter is having issues with PowerPoint, for example, a host or cohost has to move Onstage to assist – otherwise you’re stuck using Chat which isn’t very effective. Still, if you need the ability to chat among a few panelists to prep before going Onstage for the next presentation, this approach can (and has, for me) worked out very nicely.
If you are interested in exploring Webinar with Backstage, let me know and I can arrange a demo. (I’m a volunteer/Zoom customer, not a Zoom employee.)