By Pam Russell (RRFC, zone 26) and Joan Firkins (RRFC, zone 25)
After holding their first webinar in November 2013, RRFCs Joan Firkins and Pam Russell wanted to share lessons learned. Both have been attendees or panelists on many webinars but as they found out, when you are an organizer the entire experience is different.
Joan and Pam spent time before the webinar reviewing training videos for GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar. These resources include great tips for first time tool users such as launching the application, setting up your first webinar or meeting in Citrix, and organizer training. GoToWebinar resources have tips for the specialty features available only to GoToWebinar license holders such as editing recordings, reporting basics, and panelists. Both sections have tips and best practices for engaging your audience and promoting your webinar.
To help you identify key points and learning goals for your webinar, they recommend creating polls and surveys before sending out the webinar invitation. Joan and Pam strongly recommend holding at least one practice session with both organizers and presenters. Participants can use this session to work out logistical details such as who is doing what during the webinar, how the questions will be handled, and practice using polls.
For the live webinar, Pam and Joan found it was very effective to have two organizers: one organizer can manage and run the presentation and the second organizer can moderate the session, keep an eye on timing, and read the questions coming in. Since the audience can’t see your face, they found it helpful to put photos of presenters and moderators in the presentation. If you print out the presentation with notes prior to the live webinar, you’ll be prepared to easily follow your script. Make sure the formatting is consistent across all the slides, providing a professional and cohesive image for the attendees.
When it comes to audio, Joan and Pam found it useful to advise panelists and attendees alike to shut down unnecessary programs on their computer such as Skype or email and to move their speakers and cell phones away from their microphones. This drastically cut back on the amount of interference.
Lastly, don’t be discouraged if only half your registrants show up on the webinar – many people register, knowing they can’t attend but would like to have the webinar recording sent to them later!