MARCH 31, 2020

(Note: The earlier version of this update was not formatted properly.
Please use this version.)

More Tips:  Transferring Classroom-based Training to a Virtual Learning Environment

Running Successful Webinars

While we would all like the COVID-19 pandemic to subside faster than expected, we will likely need to maintain social distancing practices in the months to come. 

In the meantime, many of our clients have asked for advice about running effective webinars. 

Here are some tips for planning and delivering successful webinars during this crisis.

1. Know Your Audience: As is true of all learning events, knowing your audience is one of the keys to delivering a successful webinar. With a good understanding of what your audience needs, what they already know, and what they expect, your webinar can be focused and productive. You may even find that what you know about your audience contradicts later tips. No two audiences are exactly alike, and what works best for most audiences isn't necessarily best for yours.
  • Conduct an Audience Needs Assessment: As learning professionals, we know the importance of a needs assessment before designing any learning intervention. You can send out a short survey to get to know your audience. Using the response data will not only improve the design of your webinar but will also help you make connections with your audience.
2. Know Your Tools : Whether this is your first webinar or your 50th, you need to be familiar with the platforms and hardware that you will be using. Understanding the features and settings of both and getting them prepared for your event is important for delivering a professional offering and avoiding awkward and embarrassing moments of technical problems. 
  • Be Prepared for Technical Problems: Although preparation goes a long way toward avoiding technical problems, not all are avoidable. You should test out the tools you plan on using and prepare contingency plans for likely problems, such as an instructor losing connection or students having difficulty logging in.
  • Limit Strain: During this unprecedented rush to move meetings and training online, many platforms have experienced failures and quality issues. Depending on the platform, webinars can typically support many users interacting at the same time. Some platforms, such as Adobe Connect, can even support hundreds of users at once. However, during this crisis, platforms and internet infrastructure alike have been burdened with much higher than usual traffic. If you are having difficulty with your platforms, consider reducing the strain by limiting the use of participant video and audio, pre-recording segments, and picking an off-peak time for your webinar. 
  • Let Your Audience Try: If your audience is new to the webinar format, it may help to create a session for users to try out the platform ahead of the webinar. This way, you can troubleshoot hardware and software issues in advance.

Authors:    Dana Henry, Director, ODLS and   Dana Remian, e-Learning Specialist, ODLS

UMass Donahue Institute
Organizational Development & 
Learning Solutions
1 Beacon Street, Floor 31
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 287-4068