Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
Webinars have increased significantly in popularity due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The posting below looks at some basics of what you need to know to in using webinars. It is from Chapter 2: Strategies to Create and Share Content with Larger Audiences in the book, Managing Your Professional Identity Online: A Guide for Faculty, Staff, and Administrators, by Kathryn E. Linder. Published by Stylus Publishing, LLC 22883 Quicksilver Drive Sterling, Virginia 20166-2102. https://sty.presswarehouse.com/books/features.aspx Copyright © 2018 by Stylus Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
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Tomorrow’s Teaching and Learning
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Strategies to Create and Share Content with Larger Audiences
Webinars are an excellent way to connect with an audience when you want to provide extended content that does not work well in a text-based format, when you want to encourage live interaction with audience members, or when you just want to create an audience engagement medium where people can see you on live or recorded video. Many webinar platforms (see Box 11.6 for some examples) offer features to share video, share your screen, share a chat feature during the presentation, or share documents that can be downloaded by participants. Some will also offer accessibility accommodations such as a space to provide live captioning. Many platforms also offer the option to have more than one person as a presenter, so if you are planning to share a conversation between two people or a panel of speakers, you will want to make sure the webinar platform you choose supports that option.
There are some basics of what you need to know to get started with webinars.
You will need a webcam.
If you plan to record yourself on video for the webinar, you will need a camera either that is built into your computer (this is standard with many desktop and laptop computers) or that you purchase and install.
• Adobe Connect: www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html
• ClickMeeting: clickmeeting.com
• Crowdcast: www.crowdcast.io
• Google Hangout: hangouts.google.com
• GoToWebinar: www.gotomeeting.com/webinar
• WebEx: www.webex.com
• Zoom: https://zoom.us
You will need a strong Internet connection.
Because you will be using video, you will want to make sure that your Internet connection is strong enough to broadcast your video at a level of quality that will not distract attendees who come to the webinar. In some cases, this will mean that you use a hardwired Internet connection rather than wireless.
You will need a webinar platform.
To share your content with an audience, you will need to choose a webinar platform. There is a range of different platforms available that offer slightly different features. When I recently offered webinars to help promote my second book, I chose Crowdcast for ease of use, its audience engagement features, and because I like the look of its platform design. Now that I produce regular monthly webinars, I have invested in a platform called ClickMeeting that offers more features. Look through a range of platforms, explore their features, read online reviews, and try to view a recorded webinar on that platform before you make your choice.
You will need a way to e-mail attendees.
Before your webinar begins, you will want to remind participants to attend. After the webinar is over, you may want to follow up with attendees to provide additional information. The e-mail clients mentioned earlier in the chapter can help with this, but your webinar platform may also include this feature (although it may require that you pay a fee).
You will need a quiet space.
At the appointed time for your webinar to begin, you will want to make sure that you have a quiet space to record so that you and your attendees are not distracted by background noise or activity. If possible, make sure that children, pets, and roommates or partners are quiet as you record. Turn off the ringer on your cell phone if it will be in the same room with you and turn off any computer alerts (e.g., your e-mail) that could ding or beep in the middle of your recording.
You may need a “home base” to house information about the webinar.
Even if you are mostly planning to market your webinar via social media, it will be helpful if your webinar has a stable web presence, even if it is just a form for people to sign up to attend (see Box 11.7 for ideas on setting up web forms). Webinars work best if they are prescheduled and advertised so that you make sure they are reaching the right audience, but you can also offer a replay option for your webinar in case people miss the live viewing. A home base serves as one option to store this replay for future viewers, but you can also post it to an online platform like YouTube and then share the link via social media platforms (for one example of a webinar home base, see the website for my webinar series at www.howtoacademia.com).
Web form options.
• Typeform: www.typeform.com
• WuFoo: www.wufoo.com
There are some additional best practices to consider as you begin producing webinars.
If you are using a new webinar platform, or even if you are experienced with the webinar platform you have chosen, make sure to practice at least once before the live webinar to troubleshoot any issues that might arise. In one case, I learned through practicing that my webinar platform preferred one browser over another—troubleshooting that problem was not something I would have wanted to deal with five minutes before the live presentation. If you are planning to use presentation slides or other media with your webinar, include the transitions to these different elements in your practice session as well to make sure everything will run smoothly once the webinar is live.
Create an outline.
In the same way that you might prepare for a lecture or conference presentation, create a rough outline of what you plan to cover in your webinar so that you can stay on track and maintain your planned timing. Keep in mind that an outline is not the same thing as a script; you will not want to read directly from your notes during the webinar.
Use interesting visuals.
If you plan to share visuals other than a video of yourself, make them unique and interesting for your viewers. Tools like Canva and SlidesCarnival have presentation templates that can help those of us who are less experienced with creating impactful visual presentations.
Respect attendees’ time.
The attendees for your webinar have signed up because they want to hear what you have to say, but you should still be respectful of their time and offer the information you are providing as concisely as possible. Webinars that run about 30 minutes are usually long enough to share what you want to say and provide time for a question-and-answer session. The longer the webinar recording, the less likely people are to watch the replay (and that may be where you get the greatest number of people engaging with the webinar).
Even if only a few people sign up to attend your webinar—or no one attends at all—the show must go on. Treat a small (or nonexistent) audience the same as you would a larger audience because you may get more people engaging with your webinar as a replay option once it has been recorded. Just as you watch television on demand, people will also choose to watch your webinar recording when it is most convenient for them.
After your webinar is over, e-mail all of the attendees (and the people who signed up but never showed) to share the link to the webinar replay and any resources that might be of use to the webinar audience. Try to send this e-mail out immediately following the webinar or as soon as the replay becomes available.