Chances are you’ve been on or held a webinar in the last few months. And quite frankly, there are some shockers out there. Endless broadcasts. Tech nightmares. Illegible scribbles on the virtual whiteboard that look like NHS thank you rainbows gone horribly wrong.
Love them or hate them, webinars are a fact of our working lives right now. And while they can’t fully recreate the classroom, webinars can be a great way to learn. In some cases, webinars can be even more effective than face to face training.
Here are three simple rules to make sure your teams engage with your webinar rather than use it as a chance to catch up on their emails.
1. Set some ground rules
One of the most awkward things about webinars (and something we’re all guilty of) is how everyone talks over each other. So from the off, set some ground rules about how to interact, ask questions, comment, share ideas and get involved.
If you’ve got a large group, asking your teams to comment via chat is a great way to get everyone’s input. Keep each question or prompt focussed, so your teams know what to respond to. Like in a training room, give them time to think and type. And let them know they can come off mute if they need to, so they don’t feel silenced.
2. Test the tech – and make sure everyone knows how to use it
Before lockdown, the idea of a webinar felt more frightening than a Covid-19 briefing. Some companies we spoke to couldn’t do it because they didn’t have the software. Others did have the software but didn’t know how to use it. And those that did said their teams found it weird talking to people via their screens (remember when this was weird?).
Nowadays most of us are used to chatting on Zoom, but it’s still important to make sure everyone knows how to use the tech. To make sure your teams feel comfortable and ready, give clear instructions in your invite about how to log on and what to do if they need help. Build five minutes into the start of the session in case anyone has trouble.
You could even offer quick tech tutorials before the session. And if by some miracle this is your first webinar, run a trial run of the tech before the session itself.
3. Give people breaks, clear instructions and homework
When we asked one of our clients how they were planning to ‘adapt’ their face to face training at the start of lockdown, they told us they were going to run the usual session ‘just online’. In other words, run an entire day of training by flicking through slides. AARRRGGHHHH!!!!
Webinar minutes are like dog years. One hour in a classroom can feel like three hours on a webinar. So build in regular breaks. Keep each session to an hour and a half maximum. Use the breakout rooms for specific activities or set your teams tasks to do offline.
Read the (virtual) room. Check in regularly to see how people are feeling and how much they’re getting involved.
Want more tips on webinars that work? Say firstname.lastname@example.org