Webinar and its successful organization
A webinar is a presentation, seminar, lecture or workshop made available via the Internet in the form of simultaneous transmission of audiovisual data. Such forms enable distance learning, being in use as early as the 1990s. Soon after, their application has become common for businesses and higher education institutions.
Compared to the traditional teaching forms, the preparation of webinars poses new challenges: technical and those related to instructional design.
A successful webinar will activate participants before, during and after the broadcast, encouraging them to carry out independent work and research. However, to achieve this, the preparation should be done with care, especially regarding the communication with the participants.
Webinar promotion plays an important role in recruiting targeted audience and increasing the visibility of event. By announcing the time of the event, technical and other preconditions for participation, as well as the expected outcomes for the participants, the potential participant will more likely make a decision to register.
In addition to the general promotion on social networks, websites and other channels, registered participants must also be contacted directly. Sending reminder emails a few days before the webinar, including the day before, can significantly impact the webinar attendance. Also, an e-reminder an hour before the event can help the participant to ensure proper conditions for attending the webinar.
In a society focused more on the virtual world than reality, additional stimulation in a digital environment can easily cause saturation. For online events with a small share of interactivity, physical distance can easily become an absence of spirit. Unfortunately, in that case, moderators or lecturers have a limited impact on the commitment of participants.
However, there are methods to keep the attendees more focused and present. One is to ask questions during the webinar (at intervals of up to 10 minutes). Modern technology offers various possibilities, e.g. very short quizzes about previously presented content or simply – a short Q&A session.
The moderator and presenter should never be the same person. Moderator should repeat the topic being discussed and present the speakers regularly during the webinar. Also, at least once during the webinar, the moderator should make a summary of the previously presented part and announce the next one. Presenting a summary of the entire webinar towards the end of the event should never be left out.
What after the webinar?
After the webinar, it is important to seek feedback from participants, preferably in the form of a short anonymous survey. It allows the participants to openly share their impressions and suggestions for improvement.
In addition to the survey and a thank-you note for the participants, it is advisable to send a summary of the event with conclusions and a list of references where the research on the topic could be continued. Such information will be useful also to those who registered, but did not participate in the event.
If a webinar is a part of a larger cycle, additional efforts might be needed to keep the interest of the participants. Social networks are an excellent tool for encouraging communication between the organizers and the participants. They also allow general peer-2-peer networking. Establishing a LinkedIn group that brings together participants engaging them in a thematic discussion, can ensure high-quality interaction between members.
Obviously, compared to other forms of knowledge transfer, a webinar has numerous advantages but also a set of specific requirements. Given the large number of activities and technical issues related to the webinar preparation, sometimes it is best to entrust it to professionals.