The wacky world of webinars

I’ve done a few webinars now with the Learning Pool posse and am planning to do a lot more as both a marketing thing for Kind of Digital and as a part of the training work we do.

Webinars are going to be a really important part of the training and communications mix, as they provide a lot of the benefits of face to face learning without the travel expense and time lost of traditional events. The only thing that really sucks about webinars is the name, but I guess we’re stuck with it.

Here’s some lessons I’ve learned from my experiences of running a webinar.

1. Have a wingman

By this I mean someone sat behind the scenes, not talking but just keeping a watching brief over what’s happening. Someone to ping the odd message out to the chatroom, help manage the questions, and to remind you to do and say stuff.

Presenting a webinar can be a bewildering business and having someone to keep you on track is vital.

2. Have a co-presenter

This came as a bit of a surprise to me, but it turns out people don’t want to sit and listen to me talk at them for an hour down the phone. Madness!

Having somebody else involved can make a real difference to the dynamic of the webinar, especially if it brings multiple perspectives to the session. Also, it means that witty banter is on the cards, which improves things for delegates no end.

3. Practice

Always have a run through an hour or so before the actual performance. It improves flow, points out any obvious problems that might happen and gives everyone a chance to rehearse what they will say.

Never skimp on practice!

4. Keep talking

As I found out when doing  webinar this morning, stuff either goes wrong, or at least goes slowly – especially when you are demonstrating a website or online service. If you’re waiting for something to happen, or if you are having to have multiple goes at getting something to work, don’t go quiet!

Keep chuntering on – not just moaning about how the technology never seems to work, but go over some of the stuff you’ve already said, which will probably be a fairly useful refresher to the attendees. Not saying anything can make attendees think that everything has broken, including the sound, so even if you aren’t exactly setting the world alight with your commentary, keep it coming.

5. Interact

Webinars without audience participation can be pretty dull. Set up a couple of polls to run during the event. One great feature of GoToWebinar, the software both Learning Pool and Kind of Digital use, is that it shows you who is paying attention – ie those who have the webinar window in focus on their desktop.

If someone has flicked to check their emails while you are talking, you know about it, and that’s always a good time to launch a poll! You can also get people to type in questions and comments throughout the webinar which keeps participation up and people concentrating.

6. Follow up

When people register for the webinar, they leave their email address – so use it! Send them a link to a recording of the webinar so they can share it with their colleagues and other resources. You can also get attendees to fill in a quick survey at the end which is another great way of grabbing a bit more information from delegates.

Do you have any tips or experiences to share about webinars? Leave them in the comments!