I remember the conversation that began it all well……”they are willing to let us trial it for the east coast for free” I said to my Director at the time. Her hesitation with digital technology and the demand for online courses was understandable, but in the world we were in I knew that it was time for us to move forward into the webcast domain-and this was our chance! Our corporate office had purchased a few licenses to trial the creation of webcast courses in a few area facilities, and due to recent requests that I had made, we had been chosen to trial it for the entire east coast! I was ecstatic! “I’m not sure that many will even want to participate” she sighed, “and what about the audience and their potential technical abilities/difficulties. Will you be able to help them when they can’t make it work?”
At the end of my tenure with my previous company, I had conducted multiple webcasts on multiple topics. Each time with a broad audience of students that ranged in work roles anywhere from leadership to nursing staff. The demand was certainly there, but it was not without its difficulties and I certainly walked away with multiple tips…
- To my Director’s point, you do need to know your technology. Students will need help and will have trouble connecting, no matter how many emails or step-by-step instructions you send prior to.
- As mentioned in the article, 9 Lessons I Learned from Running My First Webinar, you need to be wary of your PP presentation. Do NOT use paragraphs or hard to read text. It will look even worse on a Webcast and you aren’t in front of it making it seem less overwhelming by talking. Put what you feel like they should take note of on the slides and make notes in the speaker’s notes for you. Don’t be afraid to use more slides than you normally do!
- Get creative and remember to engage your audience. When you stand in front of a classroom, you can read facial expressions, hop up and down, wave your arms, ask questions, etc. But when it’s you, a screen and voices over a phone or computer, your opportunities can be a bit more limited. Familiarize yourself with the tools you have available and, if all else fails, don’t mute your phone. Ask questions, use your chat, throw up a few smiley faces and ask for green checks. Poll your audience. Engage them or loose them.
- Ask people to log in ahead of time. This will definitely help with any technology issues that you may encounter before hand, and will eliminate your need to cut down on content to stay on track for your target ending time. Plus, you can work with people individually more prior to the session on these types of issues-eliminating the time others have to sit through the necessary back-and-forth as you try and figure it out.
- Take time for yourself to practice and set up. I had to take time in the beginning prior to every session; the day before just to do a quick run through, and then an hour before to not only set up (I couldn’t set up the day before, it could only be about an hour before you started the session) but to also try for any troubleshooting that I may need to do.
There are a multitude of articles and resources out there that can help you identify ways to be as prepared as possible prior to conducting your own session online. The ones bulleted above were my biggest and best based on my own experiences, but boy this post could certainly go on for days! The best advice I could give if asked however would be to try it out for yourself. It is yet another way to reach so many with educational opportunities, and one that is growing in popularity with a multitude of ways/programs to make it happen. So embrace it, make note of things that may happen, and start small. The world will be your oyster before you know it 🙂