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Let's deliver a webinar

The word webinar comes from the words seminar and web combined, so it can be defined as "a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web". (Webopedia)

The distinction from teaching sesssions is subtle but the main objective of a webinar is to disseminate information to an audience. It is however still good practice and likely to mean your webinar is more successful (in terms of audience attention, enjoyment and consequently retention of information) if some interaction is included throughout the webinar.

Site: Jisc Moodle Archive
Course: Web Conferencing
Book: Let's deliver a webinar
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Sunday, 2 October 2022, 5:10 AM

Before You Start

60 minutes before:

Get your desk ready, clear a space, get rid of distractions and set your phone to silent. 

Let your colleagues know you won't be available and post a “Do Not Disturb” sign if you need to.

Log in, load up and check your resources.


30 minutes before:

Turn off unnecessary IM and email to avoid distractions.

Make sure your computer monitor (and webcam) are positioned for comfort.

Enable and check your audio connections.

Answer calls of nature; grab a coffee or some water!


15 minutes before:

Greet participants with voice and chat.

Have an engaging activity for them to do.

Beginning the Session

It is good practice to prepare a set of reception slides for participants. You could include:

Welcome and title
Start time
Presenter introductions
Instructions for setting up and using the tools

Here is an example:

Orientation

Are your participants new to this environment? Unless you are confident that everybody is familiar with the interface, it is best to conduct a short tutorial explaining the basic principles of the tools they will be using.

You could:

Take a few minutes at the beginning of the session.

Offer a live induction ahead of the official start time (the option to log in should be available at least 15 mins before the offcial start time).

Offer a recording or screen capture showing the main features.

Make a quick guide (with illustrations) available prior to the event.

Here are some orientation slides from a Webex training session:

Icebreakers

In a time pressed webinar, particularly with large numbers of attendees, it may not be practical or necessary to spend time on an icebreaker. However, consider offering an icebreaker activity during the waiting time between log on and official start time or using the chat or polls to gather some relevant information from your attendees at the start of the session.

For example; you can ask attendees to say 3 things about themselves, two truths and one lie. Others have to guess the lie! or you can pair participants in chat and ask them to introduce each other.

Click on the graphical images below for some further ideas on activities for icebreakers.

Create puzzles and other diversions. Use with the whiteboard, chat and microphone.

Create a graphic containing some movie or music images. Ask participants to guess the titles using chat or a microphone.

Brain Teasers - Logic problems for you to use with chat.

Participant Engagement

Let participants know how to respond. It's best to spell things out to the audience and tell them what tools to use and how.

Interact with them now and again if possible. Interactions can be very quick and simple, or more involved and thought provoking, requiring more time.

Make use of a range of tools and methods to provide interest and challenge your participants.

A combination of interactive tools and thoughtful delivery techniques can make for an active and enjoyable session.

See 'How to Use Interactive Tools' for more details.

How to Use Interactive Tools

Tools

You will have a range of tools that allow you to offer a various activities in your webinars. You will have standard tools that offer two-way communication (text chat and microphone) plus some quick and easy participatory tools such as status icons and emoticons, polls and slide annotation.

Text, images and graphs can be used to prompt learner responses. If you have a webcam this can also be used to good effect - you could move it to show equipment, a work space or a physical activity taking place around you.

Calling on participants on a regular basis is a good technique to ensure that they are switched on and tuned in. Create interactions and get participants to ‘do something’ now and again. This could mean interactions with people or the technology. Make use of chat, whiteboard, microphone and polls – they are great facilities!

Have fun and relax. Remember that you will not have perfect webinars all the time. If you go with the flow and embrace the experience, your expertise and enthusiasm will relax your participants and help you prepare for next time. Keep your tone relaxed and light, but vary the intonation and keep that broadcaster high energy level up.

Have a look at this video to see how to use interactions in your presentations.

Click on this icon to view a copy of the Session Plan used for this presentation

Chat

Useful Tips

  • The most usual way for participants to communicate in a webinar is via a text interface or chat.
  • Allow time for participants to type their response and reviews questions and comments regularly.
  • Include pauses in your delivery, so that you can check and refer to the chat comments frequently.
  • Mention contributors by name when responding to individual comments.
  • Chat is useful for conversation among participants and it can be a rich source of information around a subject as participants share their own experiences and links. The dialogue can become a useful reference resource.
  • Many interfaces allow you to save the chat separately.
  • If you intend to encourage participants to use chat, ask them to reply to each others question or comments using the intended participant's name (the format @name works well).

Chat for everyone:

  • The chat facility can be used by all participants at the same time. You can use it to set up and maintain the social presence. Most often it is used to gain responses from the participants.
  • From the participant’s perspective, chat can be used to converse with other participants and/or the facilitators. They have the opportunity to do so publicly (to everyone) or privately (to directed people only).

Chat for the facilitator:

  • Chat is a good option for getting answers to questions requiring brief open-ended responses. It can also be used effectively for quick responses to closed questions.
  • Keep an eye on the chat area - it’s a good way to gauge how engaged participants are.
  • Be very clear on how you want participants to respond, particularly if the interface is new to them.
  • Keep the chat area large enough to see all recent activity. If your chat area is small, when you get many responses all at once they will quickly scroll off the screen.

Techniques and activities using chat:

TIP: It’s a good idea to give specific time limits to chat exercises and let participants know when they have a minute or so left.

Count down chat technique: sometimes you may want to ask for feedback from all of the participants at the same time without spending too much time on an exercise. A good way of doing this is to ask everyone to enter a response in chat – but not to press 'send' until instructed. When they are ready, get them to 'raise their hand.' When everyone is ready, count down to them pressing the 'send' button. Using the chat to accomplish this gets everyone engaged. In that way, reflective particpants have more time to consider answers.

Paired chat: a very useful method of interaction and engagement through use of chat is that of the 'paired chat' exercise. Firstly, pair up participants to get them to interact together using the chat facility. It is often useful to match up participants by experienced with non-experienced, or the more collaborative with a quieter participant. Additionally you could match them by a similar industry or company. Each pair interacts using the private chat facility – that is, they send a direct message to their partner. Note that you will need to explain how to send a direct message and also let them know that only the paired partners can see the chat. You should always provide a time limit to exercises, so tell them how long to spend on the exercise. Then bring all participants back to explain their findings. You could ask each pair to use the microphone to explain the results of their discussion – but remember to involve everyone.

Mind the gap: when setting up other activities, for example launching an application share or setting up breakout rooms, there is often a gap of up to 30 seconds while the technology is being prepared. This ‘dead air’ is enough to make your less secure participants wonder whether they are experiencing technical difficulties - and the ‘less tolerant’ participants to jump into an unrelated task. So anticipate the gap, and design meaningful chat activity to fill the dead time.

Microphones

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Allowing participants to use the microphone to speak to the group can be a powerful way of increasing engagement.

Ask participants to provide verbal answers or in depth explanations.

Verbal responses may be a better option for those with accessibility issues that make typing responses or concentrating on audio and text difficult.

Some participants will feel empowered, but others may be uncomfortable.

Ensure they are prepared and that you are considerate in your approach.

If you do want participants to use the microphone, consider the following:

Allow extra time in your planning as handing over to other speakers can eat up valuable session time.

Ensure participants know they will have the opportunity to speak, and that they have working microphones.

Remember to enable access to each speaker in turn as part of your role managing the session.

Do not allow one or two speakers to dominate the conversation, especially if you have some participants using only text chat and others using audio.

Remind participants to turn microphones off (or do so centrally yourself) so you do not pick up any whispers, coughs or other noises.

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