Its amazing, in this new world of robust online technology, just how much there is to learn. Over the past year, I have personally spent quite a bit of time investigating the “ins and outs” of creating and producing online events, such as webinars and webcasts. It has been a rich educational experience.
To date, I have been involved, in various capacities, with a half dozen webinars. Through experimentation with these events I discovered I have a natural ability as a facilitator, or moderator to lead panel style presentations. Over time I am becoming more and more comfortable in this arena, although I still have much to learn.
This week I participated, as both a facilitator, and panelist, in a webinar, hosted by PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association). Our presentation was entitled “Engaging Attendees Today: How to Combine Virtual and Face-to-Face Meetings.” For a recap of the event please click here for that article.
By most accounts the webinar went very well. There was a terrific audience, nearly 200ppl. The topic is very popular right now in the events business, so there was a lot of interest around it. Our panel was very well prepared to address the learning objectives, for the event, and we had a strong Powerpoint presentation to support the discussion, which is a key component to a successful webinar.
However, there were some challenging moments, and therefore some learning lessons to this experience.
Learning Lesson #1: The Moderator/Facilitator is the Gatekeeper — As I was the facilitator, it was my responsibility to keep all of us panelists on track, and aligned with the expectations of the event. See Learning Lesson #2 below — I learned the hard way!
Learning Lesson #2: Get to your learning objectives as soon as possible — This webinar was a one-hour session. We spent the first thirty minutes in the Introduction phase, which was entirely too long. There was an important story, which added credibility to our presentation talking points, but we should have been more succinct in “teeing it up” to the audience.
Learning Lesson #3: Make absolutely certain the Webinar technology is completely functional — We had two tech rehearsals for this webinar, but neglected to verify one important detail; that the webinar chat window was operational. It wasn’t. As the facilitator, I was supposed to monitor the questions and comments from the audience … I could not see them. We eventually resolved the problem, but it created some awkward moments.
Learning Lesson #4: Always have a conversation “back channel” available — All three of us panelists are Twitter fanatics. Yet, we somehow forgot to promote a Twitter Hashtag channel, for the event, ahead of time. It happened anyways, as our attendees created one, on their own. But… that was slightly embarrassing.
Learning Lesson #5: Close the Webinar Platform Immediately After Event — If you plan to have a post-event briefing (a good idea) with panelists, it is wise to first close out of the webinar. One panelist and I thought the platform was already shutdown to the public, and continued conversing, after the event, only to discover, through feedback from attendees, that we were still live. Not a good thing!
Looking ahead, I will leverage these lessons in future webinar opportunities. I tend to be hard on myself, as I strive for perfection, but if life were perfect, it would be boring, for sure.
Question: What learning lessons have you benefited from, in your experiences with webinars? If you attended this session, did I miss anything? Please share your thoughts with us!