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Can someone provide feedback on a situation I experienced recently, and to know whether this is a known problem with Zoom webinars or perhaps is due to user error on my part or others'.
As a Market Researcher, I was the moderator of a set of 10 Zoom meetings streamed to a backroom via the Webinar function. I was supposed to be on camera, to share my screen, and to have a single participant be on camera as well, with a backroom full of several (8-ish) observers, the clients of the research project, observing but not visible to the participant.
Our company's logistics team had set up the invites, sent them to the clients, participants, and me. I had accepted all the invites and they were in my Outlook calendar and Zoom calendar as expected.
The instructions I received were to click on the meeting link in my Zoom calendar to get to a Practice Meeting where I would find the participant. Then I was to read the participant our consent information, get their verbal consent, and then and only then press Start Webinar in order to begin recording and allow the research clients to begin to observe via the back room. Then I'd start the interview.
The first two sessions, I followed these instructions and everything worked as expected.
On the third session, when I joined the Practice Session, the participant wasn't there. I conferred with our logistics team. The person who had set up the invitations wasn't at her desk, and the other member of the team guessed that probably that other person had somehow sent the participant the wrong invitation. I told the client that we would reschedule, and we waited for the fourth session.
On the fourth session, when I joined the Practice Session, the participant wasn't there. Again. I conferred with our logistics team and they reached out to the participants' recruiter, who got in touch with the participant, who was apparently in the Zoom meeting, but waiting for it to start. I could not see the participant anywhere. The logistics team and I double-checked the link I was using for the event as well as the link the participant was using, and they appeared to be identical.
No one knew what the problem could be. I told the client we needed another reschedule, and we waited for the fifth session.
On the fifth session, when I joined the Practice Session, the participant wasn't there. Again, Again. I conferred with our logistics team (again) and they reached out (again) to the participants' recruiter, who got in touch with the participant, who was apparently in the Zoom meeting, but waiting for it to start. I could not see the participant anywhere. The logistics team and I double-checked the link I was using for the event as well as the link the participant was using, and they appeared to be identical. Again.
This time, as an experiment, I pressed Start Webinar, which I had been explicitly instructed not to do until I had seen and spoken to the participant because it would make the interview visible and audible to the client, which should only happen once everything was good to go and client-worthy.
Once I pressed Start Webinar, I was able to see the list of participants as well as the observers. I was the only participant; the actual participant wasn't there. However, I saw her name among the list of observers! I was able to change her status to participant, although I wasn't able to start her camera. The client in our Teams backchannel said it was ok to proceed without the camera. We proceeded.
After this session, I huddled with the logistics team. We double-checked all the invites and links, and they seemed to be correct. However, in this research, this kept happening. Sometimes the sessions would go as planned, with the participants in the participant room, and more than half of the time, I needed to Begin Webinar, find the participant in the observer list, and promote them to participant. One of my colleagues figured out how to change the camera settings so that the participant could then be on-camera as they were supposed to be.
So what could cause this situation? Invitations switched? But we double-checked the links and they seemed to be correct.
Is it a known bug in Zoom that sometimes the Participant and Observers are switched? Or is something else going on?
Please help so I can figure out what went wrong and to not have it happen again!