Webinar Engagement Strategies

It’s been a while since I’ve had to deliver a webinar, but over the next several weeks I’m working with a client on instructional design and visual design skills. We have a series of webinars that we’re working with them on, and I’d forgotten how different it can be to deliver content virtually.

Most of the credit for the activities in today’s post really should go to my colleague, Lauren Wescott, who helped me plan this series of webinars.  Continue reading

“What web conferencing software do you use?”


Connected World

Last week I was in a conversation when someone asked: “What web conferencing software do you use? What’s the best one, especially for work in the international arena where bandwidth can be an issue?”

This question comes up a lot, and I’m not sure there is a “best” web conferencing software. I responded by sharing what I’ve used in the past as well as the web tool that is my current favorite.   Continue reading

3 Reasons to Swap Out Your Slides for a Google Doc in Your Next Webinar

Over the last week, I’ve had several virtual meetings in which I’ve chosen to forego slides and instead use a spreadsheet that I had set up in my Google Drive and shared with participants.

Google Drive

Depending on the purpose of a webinar or virtual meeting, there will always be room for a variety of visual aids, including slides, here are three reasons I plan to use more Google documents and fewer slides (or white boards or chat boxes or other standard virtual meeting tools): Continue reading

Improving Webinars

I design and deliver or support a fair number of webinars. Last night, as I de-briefed a webinar that had just wrapped with a colleague of mine, we felt the content was good. The delivery was good. The interaction was good. But we still ran into a very severe flaw. Continue reading

Attend a Webinar and Get More Out of It

I had a chance to attend a webinar entitled “eLearning Visual Design Trends for Non-Designers.” It was sponsored by the eLearning Guild and  facilitated by Bianca Woods (if you’re looking for graphic design resources and ideas, be sure to check out her website).

attend a webinar without falling asleepI confess that I normally multi-task while “attending” webinars. I’ll check email. If a colleague walks by with a question, I’ll take out my ear buds and happily respond. I generally approach a webinar hoping for some nugget of inspiration, but a lot of times I’ll disconnect completely after 20 minutes or so. This is why this webinar had so much impact on me that I decided to write about it.

I walked away from the experience thinking that it was one of the most helpful webinars I’d ever attended. After one hour, I had three concrete, actionable next steps that I planned to take.

What Made the Webinar Successful?

Was it her slide deck? No. Although she did have a very well designed deck of slides (if you’re looking for an example of a clean, effective set of slides, please scroll through her deck and steal some of the design principles she used).

Was it the polls or opportunities to type questions into the chat box? No. Although those instructional design elements did help break up the presentation and give me an opportunity to interact with everyone else in attendance.

The key moment for me came before I even logged on yesterday. Just by happenstance, I asked a co-worker if she was interested in attending the webinar after I had enrolled. She was. I blocked off a conference room and we huddled around my laptop.

Attend a Webinar; Get In-Person Discussion

attend a webinar with someone else to get more out of itAs Bianca walked us through the content, my co-worker and I discussed (in real time) how we might apply some of the concepts to our work. We walked out of the conference room having brainstormed ways to better integrate video into our training, identified a specific story line for an infographic we will create for an upcoming meeting and we were pointed in the direction of a free online tool to create said infographic.

Sometimes when I’m designing and delivering presentations, I forget what it’s like to be in the learners’ shoes. Sometimes I forget that learning truly is a social activity. Two heads are better than one.

As presenters, it’s crucial to allow learners an opportunity to interact and discuss the ideas we’ve presented. They’re more likely to come up with ways to use our content that will be most meaningful for them.

Yesterday I also learned that for best way to attend a webinar, invite a friend or two. Who knows how you might be able to apply the content when you start putting your heads together.

How Bob Pike Would Help An SME Out Of A Jam

On Monday, I put out a desperate plea, seeking advice for an SME who had a tough time in the preparation and delivery of a presentation (click here to see the full post). Training legend Bob Pike read the case study and decided to weigh in on this particular situation. Following is what he suggested.

Agree? Disagree? Have other ideas? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

“Here are questions I would ask in order to respond to the situation:

1. How many in the audience?

2. Are they all eye doctors?

3. Why did they need this presentation?

4. What is the outcome of the presentation supposed to be?

5. Why were you asked to do this presentation? What do you bring that is unique?

Then, given that it is only 30 minutes and that there is probably a huge amount of expertise in the audience I might approach it this way:

1. I’ve given each of you a piece of paper. Working with a partner you have two minutes to draw an eyeball and label as many parts of it as possible. Begin. At the end of two minutes I would say, “familiarity doesn’t mean competence.”

2. Then, I would allow them two minutes to confer with those around them and add/subtract/correct anything they want to.

3. I would the use this as a springboard into pulling from them the anatomy starting from macro to micro, maybe with a large poster of the eye rather than a PowerPoint just to change it up.

One thing we constantly talk with our trainers about is having at least two ways to present each piece of content so that we are not dependent on technology.”

Bob Pike CSP, CPAE, CPLP Fellow, MPCT

Chairman Emeritus/Founder, The Bob Pike Group

Founder/Editor, The Creative Training Techniques Newsletter

Past Chairman of the Executive Board – Lead Like Jesus

Dissecting a Webinar: The Quest for Interaction in Distance Education

Web conferencing technology can be an amazing way to shrink the distance between a facilitator and the rest of the world. Of course, web conferencing technology is only as effective (and interesting) as the design of the webinar.

There are many blogs and magazine articles and even books that offer tips and suggestions on how to design an engaging webinar. This post is designed to break down an actual webinar and point out actual examples of strategies you may want to incorporate into your next webinar.

In January 2012, I was invited to design and deliver a webinar on how I used LinkedIn to find my dream job. Here is a link to a recording of that webinar:


GW Webinar

If you don’t want to sit through the entire 61 minute presentation, feel free to click on the link and fast forward to the good parts. Below, I offer a time-based breakdown of the various instructional strategies I incorporated into this webinar:

2:30  Sound check (you want to be sure people can hear you!)

2:41  Introduction and attempt to connect to the audience through a shared experience

5:13  Poll questions to get to know the audience better

10:12  Setting an expectation for participation and informing the audience that they will have an opportunity to type their own experiences into the CHAT box

12:00  Framing the presentation as a story

15:25  Inviting audience to share their experiences in this subject

25:20  Pause for questions and an opportunity for audience to share their own experiences

27:50  Pose a specific question to the audience and invite them to use the CHAT box

38:50  Again pausing for audience comments and questions

48:31  Connecting the entire message and offering a coherent conclusion of the entire presentation

Looking for additional ideas and tips to create an engaging webinar? You may find these previous posts helpful:

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