We will be looking at webinars over the next few editions of our newsletter. We will also be running an online seminar on running webinars later this summer.
But to get the ball rolling, here are our top ten tips for running successful webinars.
1. Don’t scrimp on the technology.
If the software you use isn’t up to it you might as well throw in the towel as you can’t afford any broken connections or desperately long waits while the next slide loads. WebEx and Adobe Connect are pretty trustworthy. DimDim is for those with limited budgets. Be careful of using Voice over IP when your bandwidth is limited – best to do a phone conference and then have screen-sharing virtually.
2. Prepare everything beforehand.
Load all the exercises/presentations into the ‘room’ beforehand and put them in the right order – you will have more than enough on your hands so don’t sort things out on the fly.
3. Think like a talk show host.
When presenting, think of yourself like a radio talkshow host – you need to keep the energy levels up and bring out the best of your ‘guests’.
4. Make notes of what people say.
So, you can refer back to it at the end – to thank everyone for contributing and make them feel more special.
5. Build in polls and regular interactions.
You will get many introverted souls who find it even harder to interact with the group than in traditional classrooms. Taking regular polls keeps them involved on an ongoing basis. Encourage them to make comments even if they are not talking.
6. Always try to have two facilitators.
One of you should act as the MC and the other concentrate on chat conversations and handling the technical side of things.
7. Rehearse and prepare for the worst.
So, if you are using VoIP, make sure you have a phone conference fallback. Make sure everyone has a copy of the presentation so if all fails you can just have a phone discussion. Above all, rehearse and practise using the technology, so you know what to do when it does occasionally go wrong.
8. Record it all.
You will always get people who miss your webinar and some who get called away through no fault of their own. So, make sure you record it (either using the built-in tools with the conferencing software or your own PC microphone and a recorder like Audacity). If you have a tool like WebEx, this recording will synch with whatever was shown on the screen – an excellent low-cost training resource for those who can’t attend your sessions
9. Build in follow-up activities.
Post the slides and recordings and encourage further dialogue in the form of comments and follow-up exercises prior to the next webinar. Make webinars a central part of blended programmes – then you will get higher turnouts.
10. Try to enjoy it all and don’t worry.
Participants are often very patient when things go wrong as long as you show a sense of humour. Just be yourself and relax and enjoy the whole experience. This will put everyone else at ease and will make it something they will want to repeat again in the future.