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How to organise your first interactive webinar

February 12, 2018 | Blog Admin | Methods & Tools |

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NadiaAre you keen to organize your first webinar?  Then this blog post is for you! The SDC Learning & Networking team launches a blog series on how to organise a webinar. There will be interviews with webinar cracks and testimonies from webinar aficionados sharing their experiences, tips and tricks. Next to insights from practitioners you will find links to resources helping you to get ready and bring your first webinar to life. In this first blog post you will discover that the crucial questions are not of technical nature but about purpose, process and people.

Nadia von Holzen, Learning Moments

What is a webinar?

A webinar is a web based seminar or learning event conducted online. It uses a virtual meeting room for people to connect and interact with each other and with the presenters. A webinar is hosted by an organizing team preparing and facilitating the event, encouraging participants’ engagement and providing technological support to participants and presenters. For more information have a look at the UNICEF guide: WEBINAR. Efficient and effective live learning events.

Live and real-time; people interact with each other at the same time; a webinar is often recorded for further use

Mix between input and exchange

Uses different functionalities like voice and audio, slides, screen sharing and text chat.

Short, normally 1-2 hrs

Different scenarios possible: everyone online or part of the group online

There are many other formats of online events possible like e-conversations, online circles, orchestrated mail-based e-discussions.

When to organise a webinar?

Webinars are a great option:

To include a broader audience within and beyond your organisation

To have real-time exchanges between field offices and headquarters

To listen to different voices and strengthen collaboration

To get ready for face-to-face learning events or to have follow-up conversations

All this without traveling time or costs. Nonetheless, a webinar will not and cannot replace face-to-face collaboration and conversation. Face-to-face and online collaboration go hand in hand, and stimulate and enrich the ongoing conversation.

What might hold you back from organising a webinar:

Technology: it is too complicated, too much of a burden. You feel there is a lack of technical support.

Skills and habit: webinars are not a habit yet; you don’t have the expertise nor the experience.

Bad experiences: boring webinars that follow the old and outworn pattern of one talking and the audience listening. Indeed, there is no use to invite people over different time zones to gather when there is no interaction. A video on the YouTube channel is much more convenient in this case.

There are two approaches to overcome the above constraints: Learn from and with others and learn by doing. Start small and build your online facilitation skills step by to step.

So, what are the crucial steps to make your first webinar a dynamic experience?

Like any face-to-face workshop you organize, good preparation is key also to online events.

Clarify the purpose

Tip: Web meetings are SUPPORTED by technology, but they are not ABOUT the technology. So start with the purpose, then add the tech!
Nancy White, Pete Cranston, Susan Stewart and Bonnie Koenig

Why are you organizing a webinar? What are you trying to achieve? What is the bigger process this webinar is part of? How will this webinar be contributing to the whole process? What will happen after the webinar?

Remember that you want to avoid the ‘teacher trance’; you don’t need a webinar to push information to your colleagues, network members and partners. The guideline So You Want to Host a Web Meeting? provides 4 essential questions helping you in the decision process if a webinar is a good option:

webinar 4 questions

Extract from So You Want to Host a Web Meeting? with permission from Nancy White

You can also download an abbreviated version of 5 pages of the above resource by Pete Cranston.

Clarify who you want to invite

Get a clear picture about the people you want to involve as participants and resource persons: Who should be participating? What is their motivation to join? What is their perspective regarding the webinar’s topic? Which experiences, know-how and knowledge do they bring to the online space? What are their main questions? How can you involve the participants into the invitation and preparation process? Also, have a look at the above questions ‘When to organise a webinar?’

Dive into the process and shape your agenda

Once these crucial questions are clear, it’s time to think about the design of the webinar (agenda, type of interaction) and technical solutions.

In the next blog post, Bertha Camacho from SKAT will share their division of tasks when organizing a webinar.

If you have valuable experiences to share write a comment or contact the SDC learning & networking team. Thanks!

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