Broadcasting a webinar is growing in popularity. Just today, September 19th 2014, Social Media Examiner broadcast a podcast on this topic. It covers the nuts and bolts of running a webinar. I want to concentrate on something more traditional: pedagogy.
This week I have attended three webinars. I am also on a course that uses a webinar as a basis for teaching and learning so I am a consumer with a track record.
For thirty years I worked as a teacher and lecturer in secondary schools and Higher Education. So for me, the phrase teaching and learning is pivotal. You may think a webinar is the way forward for your brand but if you get T&L all wrong it can be so damaging. Why? The reasons are many and complex.
10 ways to stop your webinar being a liability
- Businesses transfer classroom activities to a webinar. Often people use the tried and tested lecture approach. Why would you? The lecture approach was developed because in the past it was impossible for everyone to talk at once and be heard in a classroom. With webinar infrastructure and with an assistant students can comment throughout. These comments can be edited and handed to the speaker for them to incorporate so the lesson is always directly relevant to the specific audience.. This way you keep people with you, they start to have a sense of loyalty. People love to see their question tackled.
- In a webinar you cannot predict where your attendees are in the buying or learning cycle. Therefore interaction and suggestions are an important aspect of making webinars appeal to all sectors of the audience within reason. What you have in mind and what they have in mind needs a slight element of negotiation at the outset – even before the session starts as people log in.
- Sometimes the published title bears no relation to the webinar itself. This can be frustrating as people take precious time to attend a webinar and don’t like that investment to be squandered. Always give a breakdown of what the webinar includes and pitch it to beginner, intermediate or advanced in advance.
- Use educational practices about session planning and consider just what your attendees will take away with them. Yes, you might be pitching about a new piece of software but it cannot just be an opportunity to sell. Combining information with a sales pitch means people come away with something even if they have no intention of buying your product. They empathise with the company and are probably much more likely to support you via word of mouth. They might even say, ‘Hey actually you might need this new software I learned about last week; we can’t use it but it would be ideal for your niche.
- Check all resources. Be there early, wait for people, greet others as they arrive. Don’t be late. It sets a bad tone and the presenters are always on the back foot. Test the connection, run through the slides, communicate with any assistants and know exactly what is going to happen in advance.
- Put yourself in the attendees’ shoes and ask colleagues to jot down exactly what they come away with when they listen to your session as a run through.
- Involve attendees at all stages. Incorporate polls, ask for suggestions, observations or answers to questions. Create an ice-breaker, make people feel they are part of something rather than being lectured to.
- A session that has the main person in charge, taking relevant questions as they go is much better than question and answer sessions. Many people leave these. The real test is whether you keep your audience throughout the duration of the webinar.
- Thorough planning is vital. Attendee learning has to be in the forefront. An element of spontaneity is important. People don’t much like scripts. After all most of us can read that for ourselves. We want to think our investment of time will give us insights not available to those who chose not to attend. We want to feel special and ahead of the pack.
- Consider your objective, the thing that hooks people, the expectations, standards that are appropriate, the actual input, the guided practice, the close and maybe independent research, book lists, articles, more slides. This way your audience remains with you after the webinar.
If you need help planning, structuring and developing your webinar do contact us.
What are your experiences of running a webinar? What have been your biggest successes, failures, disasters and unexpected outcomes?
Vivienne Neale is currently on the Squared Digital Marketing Course. She has lectured at University College Falmouth, Plymouth University, Truro College and a variety of secondary schools across the UK. She is now a consultant, social media strategist, web content writer and founder of The Freelancer Academy.