15.05.2018

Tips for delivering webinar training

Image of the oversized word webinar with people sitting all around using devices

Webinars can be a useful tool for delivering training, saving on time and money by making training accessible to everyone.

But if done badly they can add very little value and you can lose participants early on to the pull of their busy inbox.

Here are my top 6 tips for a successful training webinar.

1. Know your product

Whatever provider you decide upon for delivering webinars, make sure you know it well. Familiarise yourself with all the features which can help to make your webinar more engaging and experiment with them. Experience it from a user’s perspective too so you can assist with anyone is experiencing problems.

2. Is it a numbers game?

Think about the format of your training session. Is it more of a demonstration with no interaction or is it involved system training where audience participation is encouraged?

The former can lead to large numbers in a bid to reach as many people as possible in a short period of time.

However, for participative learning, numbers should be kept to a minimum to allow everyone a turn and enable enough time for questions throughout. Smaller groups provide a more welcoming environment where people feel confident joining in.

3. Make it engaging

What interactive tools are available on your webinar tool? The obvious ones for delivering training will be sharing an app, your screen or files but beyond this, what else is there and where can their use add value? Here are some ideas for webinars large or small:

  • Annotation tools can be used to highlight areas on your screen, especially if there is a lot to look at. Very useful for the larger demonstration style webinars. You can draw arrows and shapes, use pointers, or tick off list items.
  • For smaller interactive training sessions, you can pass control to another user so they can try out a feature for themselves to help you assess their learning.
  • Ask a question using the polling tool. Useful for both large and small training sessions and it is anonymous so there are no pointing fingers or fear about choosing a wrong answer. It could be a pre-emptive question to get users to think about what you are going to cover or gauge opinion in the ‘room’.
  • Using the raise hand feature can be another way to run a quick poll with a ‘show of hands’. While viewing the participant list ask people to ‘raise their hand’ if they know the answer to a question. Not everyone feels comfortable interrupting a trainer in full flow so this can also be a softer way to raise a question.
  • Using the chat facility can be useful in large group webinars to encourage discussion when otherwise opportunity for audience participation is limited. It can be difficult for the trainer to manage when their focus is on what they are delivering so allow pauses at certain times to review the chat and share interesting points from the discussion or, better still, ask a colleague to manage the chat. For smaller groups and more intensive training the chat can be a distraction but is another good way for participants to feel comfortable raising questions rather than interrupting the trainer. You might decide to lock it down so they can’t have private chats but can chat openly with everyone or the host/presenter.

4. Keep to an hour

It is difficult for participants to maintain concentration while staring at their computer and listening to the presenter for longer than an hour. If you think about traditional classroom based learning, there may be natural breaks and pauses in the delivery, while the trainer helps another delegate with a query or while the presenter takes a drink, looks at notes, etc. You would also typically take comfort breaks. I usually break after an hour to 90 minutes of face to face delivery. The delivery of training over webinar tends to be a more constant stream of talk and instruction - comfort breaks (especially for the trainer!) are not practical.

Therefore, try to keep webinars to 60 minutes.

Believe me, you will feel tired following the webinar, especially if lots of interactivity. This style of training and the concentration required just seems to take more mental energy.

And remember, when you’ve only got 60 minutes make sure you start on time.

5. Don’t overload the content

As we have just established, you’ve only got an hour so you want to make sure what you cover is going to add maximum value. Part of that hour may be taken up by introductions and then you may allow time for questions at the end (or during). Trying to cover too much in too little time just leads to overload which will affect retention.

If you deliver is a mix of demonstration and interaction you may find it takes you twice as long than a classroom session but even with one-directional demonstration webinars, you want to maximise retention so there’s no point trying to cram too much.

Set your main objectives of what you are trying to achieve in the time and then keep everything else precise and simple.

6. Start with introductions

Whether just for presenters to introduce themselves and the topic or whether you want find out who is participating, be sure to allow time for introductions. If a small group, I’d recommend doing a round robin asking the participants to introduce themselves, why they are attending and what they hope to get out of the webinar. It is all too easy to hide behind the phone and computer and remain quiet throughout. In my experience, sessions without introductions have less participation. Larger groups can have participant introductions too. Perhaps not verbally but use the chat to ask people to introduce themselves to each other. As the host, verbally welcome individuals if you can.

Start introductions as soon as the first person joins the webinar, don’t sit there in silence. This is opportunity for you to start building rapport which is much harder when you aren’t in the same room with the benefit of non-verbal communication. This means you need to be logged in and ready to go a few minutes before the start, don’t leave it until the last minute.

Do you know the Unicorn LMS has WebEx integration? You can create a WebEx activity directly on your LMS rather than via your WebEx client. Your users can join directly through the LMS which will then track their attendance. To find out more about this feature, please speak to your Relationship Manager or the Help Desk.

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