So, if you’ve been asked to deliver a webinar and you haven’t done it before, there’s a few things you need to be aware of.
There are all kinds of platforms for delivering webinars, and we’re not going to go into these here, other than to say at the ‘easiest’ end of the scale for those wanting a basic webinar, a platform like Zoom is ideal. Alternatively, if your employer has a platform – then use what they’ve got.
First of all, if you’re adapting some existing classroom training content – that it’s not as straightforward as just using exactly the same content and talking through it on a webinar. The content will need repurposing.
The key is to try to build in as much engagement as possible.
The reason for this is that it’s harder to keep people’s attention when they are not right in front of you, and let’s face it, they may have other distractions around them. So, go through your content – ruthlessly, and strip it back to the essentials. Also chunking, grouping relevant content together is really important.
A good webinar should be no more than 30 minutes, maybe 40 minutes with questions, so it’s like a mini training session. If you have a longer face to face training session that you’re adapting, you may need to convert it into multiple webinars, each focusing on a different aspect.
Within Zoom you can use the screen share to share your screen if you want to use powerpoint slides for example. If using another platform you may have other interactive features, such as a a chat/message box. For each section of your content, try to build in an interactive element. If you have quick-polls for example, use them. If you only have a chat-box, that can be used – at the end of a section, ask a question, people can share their answers in the chat-box.
With participant numbers – I would recommend you familiarise yourself with running webinars with smaller numbers before you go large-scale. A group of 8 is a good starting point. With a smaller group you can have more interaction, e.g. particpants could turn their microphones on to ask questions or share experiences. As a rule though, a webinar is less flexible in format than a ‘live’ training session, so you may prefer to keep interaction to the chat/message box only rather than risk being ‘diverted’.
Always have a practice session before your first ‘real’ webinar. This will help you test whether your content ‘flows’, whether you are comfortable speaking (a webinar is more of a monologue than regular training) and allows you to check all the technical aspects. A simple tip is to make sure your notes are where you can see them (I stick mine on the wall around the camera so I don’t have to look away).
Another aspect that is different to classroom training is the ‘protocol’ of online interaction. Simple things like asking delegates to turn their microphones off (so you’re not picking up their background noise while presenting) can all be done at the beginning. Also, having two of you to host and present the webinar can make for a smoother experience. One to focus on presenting, the other on the attendees – welcoming everyone as they join the call, dealing with any technical issues that may occur for attendees, keeping an eye on the message/chat box. And also stepping in if the presenter dries up for a second!
The final point is to be yourself. Delivering a webinar for some can be terrifying, you’re talking to an audience you can’t easily see, and you may not be getting the usual feedback cues that people are listening and are engaged. You have to keep up a flow of chatter, making conversation at the beginning for instance whilst waiting for everyone to join the call. Developing your own style and being yourself is important, webinars that are scripted and read word for word make for a dull experience. You can be honest, if you’re navigating between screens for instance, let everyone know what you’re doing.
In summary – my tips (the 4 P’s) are:
Prepare – make sure your content is repurposed specifically for the webinar, and know your platform!
Practice – have a run through in advance, test everything!
Protocol – make sure you welcome everyone and do introductions, microphones off, what’s the agenda, rules of interaction eg when can attendees ask questions and how (chat-box)
Be Personal – ‘own’ the narrative rather than read from a script, keep up the chat, be yourself!
Check out our 9 minute webinar video on our Resources page