Engage before, during and after – Insights from a series of webinar

August 27, 2018 | annavonsury | Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences |


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

DoinAndrea Iffg a presentation online is as if doing it ‘in real’ or so I thought before having engaged in the organization of several webinars. Well – that is not the case at all. Read through the short list of insights of the DDLG network in order to not make the same mistakes as we did or to achieve the same satisfaction.

 Andrea Iff, SDC


During the last months, the DDLG network jointly conducted several webinars: a short series on political economy, a joint webinar with the network Employment and Income E+I on Local Economic Development. We used a webinar to introduce the concept of Iterative Adaptive Management to our network members. I will simply divide these experiences in two sections: what went well, and what didn’t. So you can decide from which of those aspects you want to inspire yourself for your next webinar:

Webinar DDLGn

What went well?

Involve participants as presenters

When experienced network members were involved as presenters and resource persons, their colleagues were more attentive, they asked more questions. It seems that these presentations by peers were more relevant and created more interest.

Learning: Engage with network members way before the webinar; involve them and use concrete examples.


Inspiring external presenters

In one webinar there were two presenters. This created a very interesting dynamic. The webinar was livelier than others with just one presenter. The two presenters sometimes even started a short dialogue amongst each other. In another webinar, we had a very dynamic and inspiring presenter. He engaged with the public, he was authentic and “real”. He drank coffee during the presentation, which created an atmosphere of a café conversation rather than a formal lecture where one talks and everyone listens.

Learning: The choice of the presenter matters. Make the presentation lively and engage with the audience. Participants tend to disengage if there is a distant expert presenting without interaction.


Chat box moderator

In several webinars, there was one person that dedicated her/his whole attention to facilitating the conversation going on in the chat box. It turned out that this was important. In the webinars in which we did not have a chat box moderator, the chat contributions felt like ‘just hanging in the air’.

Learning: Always appoint a chat box moderator.


Interactive presentation

The webinars in which participants were allowed to ask questions along the way and the presenters answered them as soon as it made sense in the flow of the presentations were much livelier than those where presentation and Q&A were strictly separated.

Learning: Try to engage with the audience as much as possible. Integrating the Q&A into the presentation is a good way to engage participants.


Interactive tools

In one webinar, our webinar partner used interactive tools to gather more information about the participants (i.e. their knowledge on a topic, the geographical range, etc.). This was very cool!

Learning: Use fancy gadgets to get closer in touch with the participants.



What didn’t?

Know your audience

Once external experts introduced a concept. We as DDLG network did not know in advance in how far the concept was already known by SDC staff. With hindsight, the webinar was not really useful; people did not profit from these experiences.

Learning:  Engage with network members and try to find out what the needs and questions in a particular area are.


Keep the dynamic alive

The presenter in one webinar went offline after the presentation, just before people had the opportunity to ask questions. His screen went black (for unclear reasons: for having a break, for having a look at the questions, to collect his thoughts?).

Learning:  You kill any Q&A session when you disengage participants and interrupt the flow and the dynamic at the wrong moment.


Have a clear purpose

For one webinar, we collaborated with our strategic partner, who himself mandated the presentation again to a third party. That was a big mistake. It is pertinent to always engage directly with the presenter. On our side, we did not take the time to really clarify our aim and need.

Learning: Always engage directly with the people doing the webinar. Always have a common ground on what you want to achieve.


Related Stories

The SDC Learning & Networking team has launched a series of blog posts on how to organise a webinar.


Download the new Webinar Guideline


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