I’ve been doing quite a few webinars lately, which is a fun and affordable way to work on strategy with geographically dispersed teams or do capacity building with organisations halfway across the globe. Apart from the benefits, there is obviously a different dynamic when working with teams remotely over an (at times tricky) internet connection. There’s less non-verbal interaction, more distraction, discussions have a different pace, etc.
As I’m a firm believer in interactive and participatory workshops that acknowledge the many possible levels of learning when I’m physically in front of a group, in my webinars I’ve been experimenting with replicating such experiences online. As MOOCs and other innovations show, there’s a great future for working together and learning digitally and I’m happy to share six of my tips and tricks about dealing with the different dynamics of a webinar:
- Digitise the coffee break
In sessions, the coffee break is a moment where participants can ask individual questions and those who got behind can be brought up to speed for the next part. In my experience, coffee breaks are essential to keep a group together all throughout a process. Short breaks in a webinar, understandably, are used to check email, so the digital coffee break is the time between two webinars. I use this time to chat individually with participants (using Skype, phone or email) to make sure everybody speaks the same language at the beginning of the next webinar.
- Provide for the social experience of workshops
Coffee breaks also strengthen the social ties between participants, as do drinks at the end of the day, a remote location, etc. A great workshop is first and foremost a social event. Every session has team building as an objective. In front of a screen some of this social experience might be lost, but in the age of social networking it doesn’t have to. I make sure I engage participants in conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and wherever else they are active so webinars are social experiences too. (Read more »)