As I suspected, this follow-up and primary session on webinars made frequent reference to part 1 which had been designed and delivered to serve as an exemplar of best practice, as identified by Emailogic from their experience in the field. It was a good session, very worthwhile, and I took a lot away from it.
On preparing for and starting a webinar, an idea I really liked was having an activity or exercise that you could pre-populate for people who join the webinar early, such as a simple word search with terms related to your content. It was recommended to start the webinar around 20-30 minutes before the official start time in order to prepare for early arrivals, test audio and video as required, ideally on a different computer, and to welcome people joining early. However, it was recommended that you don’t start for 2 or 3 minutes after the start time to account for people who may be having problems joining.
Once people are in, get them to engage early by checking-in using some of the available tools, such as putting a hand up or using the chat tool. There was a claim that research has shown that 92% of people multitask, by, for example, checking email or replying to texts during a webinar. This wasn’t cited, but it feels credible from my experience. To keep people’s attention it was recommended that you need to speak at a faster pace than you would use in a classroom setting, that you eliminate pauses and gaps as much as possible, use text reveals so that people only see what is immediately relevant in slides, and to persistently make people interact by asking questions via polls or using the chat. On the non-technical side, repeating good points and participant’s names was recommended, along with using personal disclosure and humour to create bonds.
Regarding the inevitable technical problems, they recommended having two people on a webinar, one actively leading it and the other person picking up any technical problems raised by participants, something which I have seen many times. To mitigate bandwidth problems they recommended using only slides, not live technical demos, and sending these out prior to the webinar so that in extreme cases participants can still join in via telephone.
We completed a number of exercises throughout the day also, including ones on how to design open and closed questions, and constructing a simple webinar based on a topic we currently teach face-to-face. Finally, we were given some good handouts for future reference – a standard opening script that’s content neutral, and a detailed checklist for preparing sessions.