Quickly booked, quickly realized and also quickly forgotten! That is the fate of a large number of webinars which are available nowadays. Even if costs and amount of time spent on webinars are lower than on face-to-face trainings, ineffective webinars are really annoying – especially for HR.
We asked specialists in learning techniques and experienced webinar trainers about their tips and hints for effective webinars. In the following you find their answers summed up in 8 must-haves for successful webinars as part of employee training.
8 must-haves for your successful inhouse webinar
1. Business-related contents
For a successful webinar you need contents accorded to actual and real professional challenges and also related to business goals. “Standard-contents” often do not affect participants enough in order to stay in mind or to be applied on-the-job.
2. Relation building
Especially with a high number of participants video-streaming is no option and trainer and participants are invisible for each other. Therefore it is very important to use the first minutes of a webinar to create a relation between trainer and participants: a short introduction, a picture of the trainer, a personal anecdote and so on. Because what is automatically given in a face-to-face training has to be deliberately worked out in a webinar.
3. Intercultural competencies
We live in times when projects and teams reach across locations and countries, when resources are narrow, organizations and teams operate in global networks and digitalization is unstoppable. “Virtual teams” are on the rise and especially for webinars – a tool where country boarders are no barriers – a perfect target group. With those teams cultural differences in work and life often come along. No matter if it is language, design of exercises, choice of examples, wording of the presentation or look&feel of the webinar – successful and effective webinars consider the differences when it comes to the conception.
4. Participant interaction
If webinars are designed like simple online recitations of a certain topic, learning effectiveness will be pretty low. In successful webinars participants have active parts and are called to interact. Depending on the webinar software this might be in the form of chat, text-comments on presentation slides, virtual group rooms for individual discussion on certain topics or even upload and discussion of actual working challenges participants have prepared in advance. By offering these tools the attention of the participants is given and can be kept during the whole webinar. Attention: Quality goes before quantity. In order not to overcharge the participants it’s recommended to focus on 1 or 2 interactive tools per webinar.
5. Trainings presentation vs. webinar presentation
The presentation for a webinar cannot be equal with the one for a face-to-face training situation – most of the times they have to differ significantly. In a webinar, what is lost on body language due to the virtual situation has to be compensated with a very good presentation using meaningful pictures and an adequate text structure on the slides. Furthermore tools like flipcharts or printed hand-outs fall away. Also this “problem” can be solved with a solid, multi-media webinar-presentation.
There is only one rule which is valid for both presentation forms: if there is too much text on the presentation slide participants are too engaged with reading and do not listen to the trainer anymore.
6. Keep it short and simple
A successful webinar is not – and this fact cannot be overstated – it is not an hour of online-monolog. Using the webinar live time of 60 to 90 minutes to get through as much content as possible – maybe complicated content as well – is a safe way to the webinar’s failure in terms of learning transfer. Effective webinar content is prepared in a short, concise and multimedia-based way.
However, you do not have to renounce background information and detailed information completely. But instead of to the webinar itself they belong to preparation and follow-up phase in form of pre or post readings and tasks.
7. Didactical preparation
Effective webinars need a red thread and have to follow a clear and didactical line: pre-information – start-up phase – introduction – knowledge transfer – activation – repetition – termination. This structure isn’t only important for the trainer but should be also communicated to the participants to give them a clear idea of how their learning process is working out. Therewith they know at any time in which part of the training they are, what they can expect and when to ask questions or evaluate their goals.
8. Dream Team
As we know by now, to establish effective webinars you should seize the chances of the different webinar techniques such as survey, Q&A, chat function, group rooms, votings, uploads and so on. So during the webinar the trainer should focus on two things simultaneously: on the “invisible” listeners and on the techniques. Doing so is really hard and the attempt might lead to a loss in the quality of the webinar. Therefore it is advisable to work with a webinar dream team: a trainer – should focus exclusively on the content and on the group dynamic – and additionally a technical facilitator who is responsible for the technique and the multimedia progress in the live situation. Important is that these two roles are perfectly attuned to each other, that the parts of each role are coordinated and well known by the other person in order to work fluently together.
Second advantage of the dream team: participants can listen to two different voices. This makes the webinar not only more interesting but also more diversified. This leads to more attention and, as a consequence, to more learning effectiveness.