Seeking thoughts about running a webinar

Later this month I am hosting a webinar, hopefully first in a series. The speaker is Alison Flynn, who will be talking about organic mechanisms. Registration is available here:

How do you run a webinar? I have given webinars and remember that it was a bit like speaking into a void as you can’t get a sense from the room as to how much people are enjoying your talk… Instead you just keep talking, hoping that the internet is still working, and that someone on the other end of the line is listening. It is a bit of a bizarre experience first time out.

There are some strategies for avoiding this: occasional polling, or using the chat box. I have mixed feelings about allowing the chat box being open during the talk. On the one hand, it is really nice to see comments come through – essentially text versions of body language and perceptions you might gain from speaking to a live audience. But they can also be distracting, albeit in a positive way – someone might post a comment that is interesting – for example an aside to the presentation that you weren’t going to discuss – but now that it is raised you are wondering in that moment whether to. It can mean you lose your train of thought. So my inclination is to turn them off, or else turn them on for defined periods, although ultimately I intend to leave the decision to the speakers.

Anyway, I am looking for thoughts on what experiences people have had either as a presenter or attendee that can help create a positive webinar. Comments below or on Twitter please 🙂

And do join us for #CERGinar on 25th October. Alison is a fantastic speaker.

6 thoughts on “Seeking thoughts about running a webinar

  1. Having presented quite a few webinars via Collaborate, what I have found is that it is *immensely* useful to have someone playing the role of what would be called a producer on a radio broadcast: someone with presenter ‘rights’ on the system but who is not expected to contribute to the actual presentation. That way you can leave the chat window active knowing that someone else is looking after it. If one of your audience members needs help with configuration, or there’s an issue (like your microphone stops working) they can cut in (there’s usually a ‘private’ presenters’ chat window for this), or they could moderate and feed you questions if you like, but generally you can leave them to do their thing and not worry about this. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful, and a good way of counteracting the ‘talking into the void’ feeling.

    1. Thank you Ross – that is really useful. I’ll be moderator while the speaker presents, so I can certainly take up this role. After your analogy, I’ll feel like Roz in Frasier… 🙂

  2. I have been a delegate (right word?) on a webinar, all our external exam board training is done that way. All of ours have the speaker/trainer with an additional host/admin (sounds v similar to what Ross is eluding to). This works well, the host/admin sorts out all the technical stuff and can switch the chat window off so as not to distract the trainer but it keeps running in the background. I like regular polling, keeps me awake and engaged.

    1. How about “webegate”?! Thanks, yes I think the role of moderator as producer is good, although I am mono-task so the talk may distract me from keeping an eye on things – will have lots of coffee.

  3. I’ve never participated in a webinar but one of my concerns would be the quality of my internet access from home. That’s not your problem as an organiser but I’d be tempted to stay at work to participate. I like the idea of polling to keep attention up. I also wonder how ‘typical British politeness’ works if there is opportunity to ask questions – how does one raise one’s hand or does one just type a question in to a chat box? If you can ask things verbally, then the recommendation to keep microphones muted otherwise would be a good one (save us from the heavy breathing and cat meows).

    With respect to the date/time – it clashes with #lthechat on Wednesdays 8- 9 pm BST. Not sure how much overlap of audience/participants there would be – guess it depends on the LTHEChat topic (no schedule available which is a shame).

    Any plans to record the webinar for those who can’t participate in the live event?

    1. Thanks Katherine. The Collaborate has a “hands up” option – as you say for more than say 10 people it isn’t feasible to have audio on. I’ve had both before; raise hands and then type a question or just type in questions which the speaker addresses as they feel relevant.

      I’ve been around in circles with the time! I just don’t know (and sorry about the clash). One consideration is that it probably isn’t fair to assume that the speaker can speak out of hours (in their time zone), so a speaker closer to home will probably be earlier.

      I do plan to record it. Whether that happens depends on no tech glitches, but trials have been good. But I think it would be a useful bank of resources (as the collection grows) to have available.

      Hope that the internet works ok!

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