Running Successful Webinars
Bringing Online Learning to Life
Imagine that your boss has asked you to train your team on a new process that the organization is rolling out. Your team members are spread out all over the world, and resources aren't available to fly them in for a training session.
One option is to create an online video, but you'd like everyone to participate in real time. The group work that you've planned will improve your team members' learning experience, and give people a chance to bond with one another.
In the end, you decide to use a webinar because it's easy to set up, it's inexpensive, and it addresses all of your other concerns.
Organizations often use webinars to train their teams, educate clients and engage with customers. But there's a lot that you should consider before you run one. In this article, we'll look at what you need to do to organize, prepare and deliver an informative, interesting and successful webinar.
Why Use a Webinar?
Webinars, also known as online or web conferences, are online learning events that happen in real time. Presenters stream information to participants using videos, images, text, and voice.
What sets webinars apart from virtual meetings or online learning sessions are the different interactive aspects that can be used. Audience members can communicate with one another or the presenters through instant messaging, and work together in online groups during the event.
Webinars have many features that encourage people to interact and engage in the activities, including:
- Slideshow presentations: presenters often use PowerPoint™ or equivalent to share content.
- Streaming video: viewers can watch the host present in real time.
- Text chat: participants can use instant messaging to ask presenters questions, or discuss topics with one another.
- Interactive whiteboards: these encourage brainstorming, collaboration and engagement by allowing viewers to add content or record ideas in real time.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): this technology delivers audio streaming during the session.
- Desktop or screen sharing: this allows users to view windows on the hosts' desktops. Presenters can even give control of their computers to specific participants.
- Recording: users can easily record webinars to revisit material after the event.
- Live testing: presenters can use polls and multiple-choice questions to ask questions, and gauge how much people are learning during the event.
- Analytics: some webinar platforms also use "engagement dashboards." These keep track of session time and allow presenters to see how many people have chatted or answered questions.
You can use webinars for hosting online training events, workshops, meetings, lectures, presentations, and organizational or industry-wide conferences. They are also effective for educating and engaging customers, vendors and suppliers.
Generally, webinars work best for sessions that last less than three hours. You can use them for longer events if you divide each section into blocks of two hours or fewer each day.
Webinars tend to be less effective for teaching hands-on skills, especially as it's hard to monitor students' performance and provide them with thorough feedback.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Webinars are useful for training virtual teams, and for organization-wide training. This is because they eliminate the need for long-distance travel, which saves time, money and resources. They can even shorten the length of training, because they are so time-efficient.
The interactive nature of webinars can turn learning into a highly creative and fun experience. The platform is flexible, which means that users can attend from anywhere – including work, home or a coffee shop – and they can use a variety of devices.
And because of the choice of tools and functionalities, webinars are useful for supporting a number of different learning styles.
However, there are also disadvantages.
First, despite the...