Virtual broadcast, online seminar, professional development opportunity. These are all ways to describe what we know as a webinar. The Getting Smart team participates in webinars every month and recognized that some are definitely more engaging and impactful than others. The good news is, the success of your next webinar is controllable and in your hands. Follow these 11 tips to help make sure your’s is a success!
- Pick a platform. There are a handful of great webinar platforms available that range in cost. Pick a platform that allows for an interactive presentation. Is there a chat window participants and presenters can use for questions and resources? How will that platform help encourage registration? Do they have notoriety? AnyMeeting, Blackboard Collaborate, Google+ Hangouts are a few platforms we prefer.
- Tell the world. Use social media, email blasts and blogs to promote the webinar. These should start two to three weeks before. Social media posts should use hashtags geared toward the target audience and continue until the day of the webinar to get late enrollees. For Twitter, here are some great ed focused hashtags to get you in the conversation.
- Practice makes perfect. Even if this isn’t your first time, we recommend doing a dry run to make sure you know how to advance slides and answer questions. There may be technical difficulties but if you’ve practiced and have learned the platform, your event will likely go off without a hitch!
- Encourage participation. Even though webinars are virtual, they should still be engaging for the audience. Using polling software like Poll Everywhere to get to know who’s participating. This presentation add on allows participants to text in answers to questions and the poll results automaticly update.
- Engage with your audience. Use the chat window to your advantage. Encourage comments and questions throughout the presentation and try to respond to as many as possible during the time allotted. Questions can be weaved throughout content vs. having time set aside for Q&A. This allows participants to ask questions as they come to mind.
- Ready with resources. Have a colleague ready with a list of hyperlinks to drop into the chat window. That will allow you to be super responsive to questions. (Your colleague may need to be registered as a presenter).
- Live reporting. Don’t stop your social media engagement while the webinar is happening. We suggest having a hashtag for webinar attendees to use. This could be specific to the webinar or aligned with an initiative your organization is running. Encourage a colleague to live tweet the webinar to extend reach and engage those not participating.
- Practice what you preach. Think about the pedagogy you advocate for and use those same practices during your webinar. Rather than a generic, “Are there any questions?” Ask a specific prompt, “Are there other opportunities to implement this concept?” “Do you know of other valuable resources?”
- Get innovative. Go beyond the basics. There are so many great programs that enhance presentations including Prezi, video, and Office Mix for Education, a free interactive add on for PowerPoint.
- Partner up. Invite a co-presenter to join you. Encourage witty banter throughout rather than a dry sequence that feels scripted. Great webinars don’t have a specific agenda, instead consider having a few talking points that the presenters should cover, then let the conversation guide itself. Consider creating a collective agenda with participants.
- Follow up. Once your webinar is over, make sure you follow up with participants and share the archived presentation. Do you have a new resource available that connects to your webinar topic? Share it with them! Perhaps there were questions in the chat window that you and your co-presenter were unable to address? This is the perfect opportunity to follow up with participants and answer those questions. (See our example in Blended Learning Webinar Q&A).
Here’s a couple of webinar libraries to check out:
- PresenceLearning, Getting Smart Advocacy Partner, has a vast library of their webinars and even turned one of their latest webinars into a white paper resource.
- District Administration features a large variety of on demand webinars.
- Webinarslist.com is a great webinar aggregator to consider when skilling up.