The webinar. Its a frequently used medium for online learning programs. Most of us need to deliver them but it can be an intimidating and confusing undertaking, fraught with disasters in the making. So why bother, right? Wrong, webinar creation can be a painless process that engages multiple learners simultaneously; so its time to get past your stage fright and give it a go. Here are a few tips on how to create a successful webinar to help you make it the best experience for yourself and your audience.
There's no show without an audience so you need to begin by attracting a crowd. Sending out an email invitation is the way to go but keep a few things in mind:
- Make it personal. It's best if invitees believe that this invite is specifically for them. Use language which is personal and professional. Be very careful not to over-do your pitch. Using hard-selling advertising copy will, at best, get you deleted and, at worst, get you filed in the spam box.
- Make it relevant. Are you inviting the right people, and does it include keywords and information that will convince them this session will be of value to them?
- Make it visually attractive. Does it look boring and dated? Give it a contemporary feel. Better yet, provide strong branding: make it clear where its coming from before invitees even start reading.
- Make multiple reminders . Most of us appreciate a nudge or reminder. Send your initial invitation out at least three weeks in advance (think about when people's calendars start filling up). Then, send a follow up 5 to 7 days in advance.
The Right Content
Review your content from a user's perspective. Is this really giving them what they need? Have you paired it down to the essential material they need to know? Remember, even the best students have a limited capacity to absorb new material.
When designing your webinar, don't be a talking head. Make it interactive. For example, you can include surveys or quizzes or invite questions throughout your presentation. Encourage discussion. For fun, you can even declare an action break. Invite everyone to stand up and touch their toes.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
Make sure every link and bit of technology you use is workable again, and again, and again. Leave nothing to chance. Particularly if you are using a number of video clips and other adjoining technology, you want to have it all down pat, because when your nerves hit you as you go live you want these things to be second nature.
When you go live, make sure your students turn off the distractions—you know, things that go beep. While you’re at it, turn off everything in your own environment that might be heard. You want to optimize the quality of your sound environment.
Regular webinar presenters will tell you, there are always late comers. Do not start your session late in order to accommodate those stragglers. If you do, you will lose students who respectfully turned up on time but who have pressing appointments in their calendars.
Pacing is Everything
Like a well trained high performance athlete in a race, don't let the adrenaline push you forward too quickly. Slow down and speak clearly—even when you’re nervous. Don’t be afraid of silence. Pause and allow a moment of reflection from time to time.
When the Worst Happens
Despite your careful preparations, things happen. You encounter a technical glitch, the loudspeakers in your office suddenly start blaring rock music, the boss walks in ... just communicate what’s going on to your students and keep them informed as too how and when the problem will be resolved. This is where you can use that secret weapon: humor. What else can you do?
Send out Resources and Notes
Any multimedia you use—slides, videos, audio clips—is at the mercy of your learner's environment. You can control your own bandwidth but you cannot control theirs. Be sure to send a follow-up email to students with links to the resources, so they can review if there may have been a hiccup in their viewing ability.
In the spirit of continuous learning and improvement, don’t forget to send a follow-up survey to your participants. No matter how well you think the session went, there is always room for improvement.
The Next Invitation
The follow-up email is also the time to target your attendees for upcoming programming. Is this the first in a series of webinars on a particular topic? Send an invitation out regarding the next course now while they are highly engaged and excited about what they've learned.
Good luck. I know you'll be successful!