That magic moment

Okay, Zoom has quirks. It has even more quirks when you’re trying to include language interpretation. As we have led, hosted, helped, and provided tech support for countless meetings, we get to know a lot of those idiosyncrasies pretty well. Even when we think we know everything there is to know, there’s an update or a bug fixed and we have to go in and see what was fixed and what else may have changed.

One frustration some of our colleagues have expressed is that meetings with interpretation include attendees who need interpretation, however, if the interpreters are already in their assigned roles as interpreters, they can’t actually interpret the instructions about how to join channels. Usually, we can handle that by not actually assigning the interpreters until the instructions have been given. Except – if the interpreters aren’t assigned, then the option – and the globe icon- to choose the language doesn’t appear.

Talk about a conundrum. This is the epitome of “the chicken or the egg” argument. Assign the interpreters so the language option appears – but attendees can’t hear the instructions about how to choose a language channel, since they aren’t in the language channel. Hmmm

As luck would have it, Zoom actually gives you a magic moment. There is a key moment you can take advantage of. 

1. First of all – assign your interpreters and start interpretation.

Right now – is your magic moment Don’t click okay yet! 

If you would like to have your interpreter give instructions to folks who are “off channel” as we call it – meaning they haven’t yet chosen their language channel, now is your chance. If the interpreter is in this limbo moment, they can still be heard to everyone who isn’t in a channel. The interpreter can give the instructions and the interpretation globe will be visible to all participants.

Once your attendees have chosen a channel, they will no longer hear this interpreter. Assuming you’ve got the professional setup of having two interpreters per language combination, the second interpreter can reassure attendees by doing a sound check in the language channel selected.


There you have it – the magic moment when skilled interpreters can provide the guidance needed in the language your attendees understand. Contact us for more details if you are planning a virtual event. Leave the heavy lifting to our TEAm that constantly takes the time to learn all of Zoom’s quirks so you don’t have to. We’ve helped many interpreters feel comfortable working with the Zoom interface and given organizers confidence that they can focus on their presentations while leaving the technical aspects in our capable hands. For more information drop us a line at

That magic moment
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