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Short Webinar Lessons Learned

Last week I presented my first webinar for INTE 5670 Plan and Facilitate Live Events. Overall I think it went well and I would like to share some things that I learned from the experience. Admittedly, I sort of took the idea of the “webinar course” for granted because I often have conferences with clients and co-workers. I typically run these meetings on GoTo Meeting and mostly screen share and run through documents and images or 3D files. However those experiences seemingly helped very little in comparison to running a well designed webinar with ample Absorb-Do-Connect activities. Overall, as a presenter the space feels “cold” to me. Where as in face to face or more informal web conferences there is more dialogue style of engagement that creates opportunity for more informalities that I gravitate towards. Popular webinar types of interaction such as polls, group chat, and whiteboard are silent dialogues. So as a presenter, it feels more like I’m lecturing the whole time and carrying on a conversation with myself. Nevertheless, webinars present opportunities to promote engaged synchronous learning in very powerful ways.

Here’s a few things that I learned while preparing and running my first webinar:

  • Don’t be too confident in your experience. Practice as much as necessary for the presentation.

  • Create your slides as early as possible in order to adapt the presentation based on what feels natural in practice.

  • Create a script, then adapt it where necessary. Be open to letting yourself go off script on the same topic. But don’t allow yourself to go off topic.

  • Time yourself and prepare your timing. Allow room for more or less time based on the participation in the webinar. Discover areas where you can make up ground.

  • Be genuine even in practice. If you practice like you are actually talking to someone else or demonstrating something, you will discover challenges that need to be overcome. Whether with technology or presentation style, adaptation is key.

  • A half hour before the presentation loosen up! Sing, move around, make faces, stretch. Get your vocal chords in order. This might make you more energetic and reduce speaking errors (it works for me at least).

  • Have a back up plan. Such as a .pdf of your slides if the platform chokes. Or an alternative way for participants to interact if they struggle with the platform or media.

  • Make a preflight checklist! If you genuinely practiced running your webinar you may find at least one of the attempts you forgot to do something necessary for the event prior to launching your webinar.

Here’s the resource document I shared in the webinar.


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