You know the ones I mean: they’re either all talk and no development or, particularly with the free ones, a cheesy sales pitch - I personally believe that most of us know and accept that there will be a pitch - that’s not my issue. It’s when I’m expected to listen to their rags to riches story of how they went from zero to hero at the beginning, with the sales pitch at the end and so only 10 minutes of anything deemed useful, if that. Stop doing that. We all know what you’re doing and it stinks.
Full disclaimer: I facilitate lots of webinars and I know I can be pretty critical when I waste my time and often money attending bad ones. This isn't going to be some thinly veiled attempt to sell my webinar-wares; it'll probably be more of a rant, which I don’t particularly apologise for because I believe that in this day and age we deserve better.
If someone is calling themselves a learning expert, I perhaps wrongly assume that they should understand what good looks like before they foray into designing and delivering learning in any format. We know so much about how it all works and the benefits of engagement, involvement and participation in the learning process, not to mention the technology that we have available to us when it comes to the online side of things.
Whether you’re paying in time and/or money, there’s simply no excuse for it any more (was there ever an excuse?). Together we can banish these boring webinars by fulfilling our responsibility to provide honest feedback and being smarter and more aware of attending webinars that meet a few simple requirements.
My top 3 tips to look for from your next webinar:
1. ALL cameras on (and mics if possible)
We’re not all comfortable with this, I get that, so go with me for a second. I speak from experience when I say that it really does create a true virtual learning environment and eliminates so many limitations in connecting with the facilitator and the other participants. People may need a little time to get used to it and I have so much feedback on how it ultimately helped towards creating a much more engaging and valuable experience for people. Simple and cost effective technology exists to do this, it’s simply not being used widely enough. At the very least, look for a webinar where you will be able to see your facilitator, rather than staring at the usual bland deck of slides (don't get me started on slides).
2. Look for true facilitation
I recently attended a webinar where the 'facilitator' spent 90% of the time telling me and everyone else what they guessed was going on for us. In the same way as we wouldn’t accept sitting in a training room only to be talked at about only the ‘experts’ point of view, why should we put up with it online? Your facilitator should be exploring ideas, encouraging you to share and using a range of techniques to maintain your engagement so that they can help you to apply everything to your world.
3. Be involved (immediately)
It’s always an early warning sign for me when I still haven’t been asked to contribute anything other than “hello” within the first 15 minutes. I’m not shy in contributing even when not asked, but not everyone is comfortable or willing to do this. If you get a sense that you are just going to be read a deck of slides for 45 minutes, hang up!
Then remember to offer your feedback