Citrix GoToWebinar identifies each participant in a web conferences with an assigned role status. The three roles are: Attendee, Panelist, and Organizer.
- Attendees watch the presentation and can't make changes that affect other participants. Their microphones are muted by default.
- Panelists can communicate in a "secret chat mode" with other panelists/organizers, and have a few additional tools available. They can be heard by attendees over the broadcast.
- Organizers have full control of the session. They can start the audio broadcast to attendees, end the webinar for everyone, change any participant's role, assign who is the active presenter, and so on.
All of that makes logical sense. But there are two areas where the operational design breaks down. These have been documented in Citrix user forums and continue to cause confusion and frustration.
The first is that only organizers see questions typed by attendees. An organizer can assign one question at a time to a single panelist, who can then see that question. But if you have a team working behind the scenes to review all attendee questions, the only way to make it work is to raise every team member's authority to organizer status.
I have learned through painful experience that I need to slowly, clearly, and emphatically inform my team members what is about to happen when I raise their status:
"I am going to make you an organizer so you can see questions coming in from our audience. We are still in pre-show mode and the audience can't hear us. When you become organizer, you may hear an audio prompt telling you to press some keys to start broadcasting. DO NOT DO THIS! That takes us live and there is no way to come back to private mode. You will also see a big bold red banner at the top of your control panel with a button to start the broadcast. DO NOT CLICK IT! You also have the ability to end the webinar for everyone. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO CLICK THAT OPTION."
It's all so ridiculous. Panelists should be able to see questions coming in from attendees without having to give them catastrophic keys to the kingdom. [Side note: While I'm bitching, why is there no way to pause the audio broadcast and pull panelists back into private subconference? I can't fix an accidental start to the broadcast and can't have a private post-webinar briefing with my team.]
I just learned about the second problem with GoToWebinar's handling of organizers. The software tries to make life convenient for users by remembering their credentials for future use. If you log in as an organizer on a webinar and then come back on a later date to attend a different webinar, you may very well find yourself with organizer privileges, as the software remembers your previous account details.
A user wrote in to the Citrix community forum complaining that personnel in their company had unexpectedly started webinar broadcasts when they came in as attendees. Citrix technical support recommended that organizers uninstall and reinstall the GoToWebinar software after each session in order to prevent this. Fortunately a helpful board leader suggested a more rational approach, which is for organizers to turn off the "Remember me on this computer" option in GoToWebinar and manually sign out of their account after the session ends. That gives us a workaround, but it's asking for a lot of proactive operations by someone who might have come in once as a casual guest panelist.
It sure feels like these could be made more convenient and user-friendly with a couple of design changes. Maybe the product team can revisit them once the spinoff of the collaboration unit from Citrix is completed.