IJAM welcomes guest blogger Barbara Whiffen, Operations Manager for Insurance Journal’s Academy of Insurance.
Ah, webinars. What’s your first thought when you hear the word “webinar”? If you’re a webinar moderator, it might raise your blood pressure a little; if you’re a presenter/instructor you may get butterflies with anticipation or anxiety wondering what webinar platform will be used; if you’re an owner of a company you may think “This is great! I don’t have to pay travel expenses to learn about this topic!”
Having moderated webinars for almost 3 years now, I feel that I have a good understanding of what it takes to have a positive webinar experience. I’ve been through webinars where there have been technical glitches on our end, completely-out-of-our-control technical glitches on our webinar provider’s end, instructors calling in late, participants continually unmuting themselves and having private conversations (even after I’ve instructed everyone to stay on mute), and the whole gamut in between. Below are some tips I believe will help make the webinar a pleasant experience for everyone involved.
1. Print Any Slides and Coordinating Materials
If you’re given the slides ahead of time, print them out! Print them so you can follow along with the presenter and take notes on the coordinating slides. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll print them later and transfer your notes- you won’t. You’re too busy.
2. Join the Webinar a Few Minutes Prior to Start Time
If the webinar starts at 8:30am, join at 8:25am. This will ensure enough time for your computer to make any necessary software updates that might need to be made. The webinar coordinator won’t be able to predict what your computer needs, only your computer will know what it needs.
3. Check and READ Your Email
You’re sent reminder emails! Although most webinar reminder emails have a subject line that is pretty obvious, don’t delete and discount all emails assuming they’re spam. This will prevent you from scrambling at the webinar start time for log-in/call-in information. Remember, if you’re participating in a webinar, expect an email about it, watch for an email about it and (once received) read the email about it.
99.9% of the time all the material in an email reminder about a webinar is pertinent information:
- It’s information you need to know.
- It’s information that will make the webinar go smoothly for you, the presenter, the moderator and all attendees.
- It’s information that will save you time (i.e. you won’t need to call anyone to ask a question because the answer is right at your fingertips).
- It’s information that will make life easier for everyone involved in the webinar including, most importantly, you.
4. Keep Your Phones on Mute!
When your phone is on mute you will still be able to hear the presentation- being on mute means that YOUR phone is on mute, not the presenter’s. No one will be able to hear anything coming from your phone and guess what?! No one needs to hear you during this webinar! No one wants to hear your side conversations, paper shuffling, the ding of emails coming in, coughing, etc. Hearing all this side noise creates a very unprofessional webinar experience for all involved. When your phone is on mute- leave it on mute!!
5. Know Your Time Zone
All webinars will list at least one time zone for the start time. For example, it might say 8:30am Pacific. If a webinar starts at 8:30am Pacific, this is the exact same as saying 9:30am Mountain, 10:30am Central, 11:30am Eastern. 8:30am IS 9:30am Mountain, 10:30am Central, 11:30am Eastern. If you don’t know what time zone you’re in or are still confused on what time you should call in, go to: http://www.worldtimezone.com/time-usa12.php