Organisations sometimes find it daunting to organise a webinar for the first time. A webinar is a live, interactive, online event that helps communities and organisations to connect, engage, learn and share knowledge. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit us and we could not carry out in-person meetings, we were forced to change our approach to meetings and rely more on technology. This new way of holding meetings can be very helpful to ensure broader participation of persons who live far from the usual meeting venues and can save organisations a lot of time and money.
Here are 10 tips for organising webinars.
- Decide on the following:
- A webinar topic that is short and precise.
- A speaker(s) and facilitator who can run the webinar.
- The best platform to have the webinar, for example, Zoom. If you are using Zoom there are two options for setting up the webinar, either as a ‘meeting’ or ‘webinar’. Select settings that make the webinar more secure to avoid disruptions during the webinar. You can make the audience register for 2 reasons; (i) to receive the link to the webinar, (ii) to allow you the organiser to know your audience and their requirements in advance. For confidential meetings, you can also use Jitsi.
- Ensure that you have a good internet connection.
- It might be useful for your organisation to subscribe to a webinar platform such as Zoom – a subscription will allow you to have longer meetings than an individual free account (where meetings are limited to 40 minutes).
- Select a date and time that is convenient for the targeted audience, for example, a lunchtime discussion during the week would work better for an audience that struggle to spare time during normal working hours. Be conscious of time (how long the webinar should be, the time allocated to each session and make sure that you send out the invite well in advance to allow better planning). Don’t schedule whole-day webinars – these can be hard to follow and costly for participants who have to pay for internet access. For longer meetings, think about icebreakers that allow participants to interact with each other.
- Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and your organisation’s website to promote the webinar.
- To have a wide reach in promoting the webinar, on Facebook, one can boost the post by targeting a specific audience.
- To have a wide-reach audience during the webinar, make it live on Facebook/YouTube. This would work well for those who cannot access the webinar platform but have access to social media or who want to watch the webinar afterwards.
- Schedule a practise session to familiarise yourself with webinar functions and making sure that everyone including the presenters and interpreters know their responsibilities and test their sound and camera.
- For an interactive experience with the audience, use, for example, pictures, charts etc. as visuals make the webinar interesting.
- Have one or more persons who can be admitted as co-host (if Zoom is being used) who can assist in the background in making sure that there is a good flow of the programme by, for example, muting/unmuting participants and admitting participants who are in the waiting room. It sometimes happen that a participant’s background noise interferes with the webinar – the host/co-host must be ready to immediately mute that person’s microphone or video.
- At the start of the meeting, record the webinar (if necessary).
- To comply with laws on the protection of personal information, make sure that the audience is aware and in agreement with the webinar being recorded.
- For people to participate during the webinar, you can allow people to unmute themselves and talk or to make use of the Question and Answer (Q&A)/Chat option to make comments or ask questions.
- Think about accessibility. Once you are familiar with the online platform, you can adjust it to make your webinars more accessible.
- Make sure any powerpoints or images you share during the webinar are in a large font with good contrasts to assist readability.
- If images are shown, the facilitator should also describe the image shown for persons who might not be able to see it clearly.
- If you arrange sign language interpretation, make sure that the interpreter is pinned and their video is on so that they are visible to everyone during the webinar.
- Ask potential participants about their language preferences. You can then arrange for an interpreter to be added. Make sure you explain to the audience at the beginning of the meeting what to do to hear the interpretation.
- Lastly, after the webinar
- share the presentations and other materials discussed.
- it is always a good culture to put together an attendance register that can be shared with the donor of the event.
Yes, organising webinars is fun, easy and very much doable!