The story of how to run a webinar #cipdlrn #CPD
Yesterday (9th Feb 2012) was the day of my first “real” webinar. Sure I have used online platforms before, In fact back in 2004 I used an inline platform to bring a colleague into a public course run in the US that he missed due to traffic stopping him from getting his flight. But this was a first, not a small audience, and not an invited audience – but a “public” event. Quite a large event – well over 100 participants
In the beginning
Some of you may know that I run a small number of LinkedIn groups. One is quite large, and I wanted to do more for the members of the group. A year and a half ago I thought about running online CPD or learning events for members. I put up a poll, asked a few questions and got a reasonable result. I then spoke to a business partner that had a webinar/ virtual meeting platform and asked if we could use that (having a quality product rather than a free advert based service). They said yes in principle, but barriers and politics got in the way. Nothing happened.
Then a few months (December) ago I put out a tweet about platforms for webinars, had a great response, but one stood out – David Smith from InSync Training. He connected me with Citrix GotoMeeting, and the rest is history
How to make a successful webinar
Rather than do what we thought would be a good started topic, David & I had a brainstorm around virtual meeting tools and their usage. It made sense to start as an educational piece about getting the best from the technology we were proposing. I posted a poll in the LinkedIn group, and whilst responses were limited – we reacted and run a session based on the majority:
“Virtual meetings & the etiquette of being online”
Learning the platform was not difficult – but me being me, I drove it to its limits, with the Citrix team wondering what my goal was at times. The key learning was.. Practice. Practice, Practice… not just the content (that goes without saying), but driving the technology.
A chance telephone call with Martin Couzins (former editor of TrainingZone) a few weeks ago, where he shared some experiences of webinars, led me to invite Martin to join the delivery team to manage the Q&A session. Martin was involved with 2 practice sessions with david & myself, but nothing could prepare us for the live event!
There was to be fair a slight operator error some 20 minutes before the event, but once over that things went well until… we asked people to post their questions, and the questions flooded in! More than one person could cope with. I was glad there were 2 of us behind the scenes.
To those also following twitter they would have seen us both active for the first quarter of the event, then we went quiet.. all because of the frenetic activity of managing the questions being asked. If you only have a few people they won’t ask as many questions – but with the number of people we had.. well, needless to say it will always be a 3 handed job from now on!
There were many things we did that others said could not be done… short notice period – only a week and a bit notice, some of the ways we controlled the technology, some concepts in webinar behaviour that will form the “culture” of how we as a team will go forward. Just how successful some of these things will be only time will tell. What I can say is that several people involved in the design and delivery of this session have already changed their thinking about webinars. There have not been many events of this size for example that had such an active twitter stream as we did. And the great this is we did not drive it – participants did.
For those of you that know me I am always looking for a “new angle”, a way to deliver the vision of a collaborative, thriving community, making learning easy for all.
The twitter stream said it all – lots of great quotes, and positive feedback. We even had people messaging me apologising for being late, and even for leaving early. I understand this does not usually happen on events like this. It was a real community feel.
There were some technical problems with a survey after the event – but this appears to be people with pop-up blockers – on so we know that for next time, and can manage it differently.
I believe the event was a success, David, Martin & I had a chat afterwards and were very happy. Lots of key points.. managing questions, invites, information etc. Mostly minor points
Footnote – From the start none of the people running this event ever met – in fact I have never met David or the rep from GoToMeeting. Who says trust has to be built face-to-face – this whole project was started and delivered because of the trust built through social media – leading to social business.