Matt Turner looks at the worrying rise of the ‘internecture’
I think it is fair to say that webinars often have a bad name. Not the nomenclature as such, but the reputation.
The name is potentially quite good, I guess. A seminar via the web. But seminar is the interesting bit. In the UK at least, in further education you usually have a mix of lectures, seminars and tutorials.
A lecture is for a large group of students, with one lecturer and one-way. A seminar on the other hand is usually with a smaller group of students and one professor all having a more in-depth discussion.
‘Webinar’ might be an ugly name, but it was the right idea. And in some ways, got unfairly maligned (bear with me on this).
A good webinar is involving, stimulating, two way – often with 1-2 speakers discussing something – like a good radio or tv show – AND with full interactivity. This is why webinars can be effective for some learning too.
Recently though, there appear to be more lectures via the internet. On these ‘lectures’ there is not even the ‘interactivity’ of “Open your books at page 62” that my former Business Economics lecturer used to thrill us with.
These internectures (geddit?) are where someone just transmits at you, usually for one hour, or 55 mins with 5 mins for questions (at which point you are just finishing your Spotify ‘Songs for lockdown II’ playlist).
I have sat in on 3 webinars by people trying to sell something in the last 2 weeks (I joined the last one just to see if my theory held true, tbh) and the main thing of all of them is it was very one-way.
Now that we have more people working remotely, with more time in virtual meetings, conferences, training and webinars, it seems strange we are not making more of an effort to make webinars better. Do people just give up? Are people too tired, stressed, busy or desperate to do more interesting ones?
Given the situation, we should be aiming to make our webinars better than before…
Below are some simple things you can do to make your webinars a better experience all-round…
• Add in some polls – better than nothing
• Encourage people to chat and ask questions in the chat – including direct questions
• Set it up so one person is asking another questions – more like a podcast or interview, so at least it feels to viewer like they are more involved
• Better still, add in 2-3 presenters – or a panel
• Use the whiteboard functions
• Get in a guest speaker even for a short space of time – if they cannot make it in person, they can always supply a short video or audio recording
We have had great success creating webinars with clients that are highly interactive and involving – leaving viewers and participants feeling motivated, interested and ready to act on the content.
Try it yourself. You may find that both you and your audience are particularly grateful for your efforts.