What new skills can be mastered in a 60-minute webinar?

The short answer: I can’t really think of any skill that can be mastered through a 60-minute webinar. I can, however, think of lots of skills that can be introduced and even developed over the course of a 60-minute session (in-person or virtual), but true mastery requires learning, being open to making mistakes as you try something new out, practicing, reflecting, practicing some more, getting feedback, acting on that feedback, continuing to practice… you see where I’m going.

Let’s put the idea of true mastery as the result of some sort of training intervention to the side. I want to share a recent experience I had with a client in which we introduced the idea of setting SMART goals into their mentoring program. It all began with a 60-minute webinar.

Because of everyone’s busy schedules, it was difficult to even pull everyone together at the same time for a 60-minute webinar (perhaps a self-directed elearning module would have worked better, but there is no LMS nor was there budget for a larger initiative like an elearning project). The webinar seemed to be the best first step.

In talking with the organization’s leadership, there was a sincere buy-in on the idea that their mentoring program could be made more successful if mentors were given some structure to help them set, track and monitor progress toward goals – thus, the SMART goal was introduced.

During the session, some of the things we discussed included what a SMART goal is and when you might need to set a SMART goal vs. when a simple conversation and some advice or direction would be sufficient. I sent the group into different breakout rooms to have them set a SMART goal based on a specific issue that may commonly arise during mentoring sessions and we debriefed the SMART goal setting process. We also reviewed each groups’ SMART goals to determine what they were already doing well as a result of this session and what they might tighten up when it came to setting well-crafted SMART goals.

We didn’t just end the learning experience there. Several days after the session, participants were sent a sample SMART goal template that had been completed, with narrative given for each part of the SMART goal. This template was also annotated, pointing out what was good about the way that the sample SMART goal template was filled out (for example: The narrative documented in the Relevant section of the SMART goal offers a clear description on how the measures and action items are directly related to the specific goal) and what could be improved in this sample (for example: While the mentor has attempted to assign Timebound deadlines to achieve the various milestones, setting all milestones to be completed by 12/31 would not be helpful when trying to see progress between now and the end of the year).

Introducing a skill or concept or practice during a 60-minute session helps to bring awareness to that skill or concept or practice. Offering learners a job aid to help them navigate the new skill or concept or practice can give them structure. Providing opportunities to practice the skill/concept/practice during the session and offering sample templates that have examples of how it could be completed and annotations on how to complete the template correctly brings the 60-minute session and the usefulness of the job aid to the next level.

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