At Equate Scotland, we have been delivering webinars for a number of years to help us reach more women and employers across Scotland. As events are, rightly, cancelled and more organisations are delivering content online in the current circumstances, we thought we would pull together some key points we have learnt along the way in the hope it helps others and (if you scroll to the bottom) a key ask.
1. Think about timings and breaks:
Expecting particiants to sit at their desks or sofas for long period of time is not only unrealistic, but also unhealthy. If you are re-developing training to be online, then consider extra breaks peppered throughout the workshop and more regularly than you would if this was face-face delivery. According to experts around 60 – 90 minutes is the ideal length to keep participant concentration. However, if you have a full day workshop to deliver, breaks every 45 minutes are recommended. For this reason, practicing timings before delivering the session becomes even more important.
2. Slim down content:
We are often very attached to what we have created, so editing and narrowing down content will feel difficult. If you were planning an all day workshop or had included in it something that required face to face engagement that doesn’t easily translate online, then consider shelving it. To make sure participants are getting the most of your webinar, it is likely that more explanation or more discussion will be needed, as such, all of your content may not fit into the same time allocation you previously had. Also remember the more people taking part, potentially, the longer it will take for discussion/feedback etc.
3.Keep it interactive:
In all of Equate Scotland’s training delivery we include interactive tasks to ensure participants get the most out of the event. A webinar should be no different; use polling, virtual breakout rooms, q&a etc to stimulate discussion and to ensure it is a participatory learning experience rather than a lecture.
4.Embed different media:
Most webinar platforms allow you to share your screen, and can use PowerPoint, Slido or whatever other method of delivery you would like. Where possible, find film clips, audio clips and other forms of media to add throughout your webinar. This is likely to maintain attention and means people hear a range of voices and inputs.
Online content should not mean exclusionary content. Although we are in unprecedented times, equality and access must not be forgotten about or dismissed. Use captions for your delivery (multiple platforms including Zoom will support this), regularly check in to ensure people are able to participate and keep the chat function live so private messages can be sent to the host, for participants to let you know if they are having any problems.
6.Provide participants with breifings or pre-event support:
Linked to accessibility, is providing participant support. Do not assume that participants are well versed in using technology. Ideally provide them with a how-to guide before the webinar so they know what to do and, where possible, offer pre-event support such as an email exchange or a call to talk them through how it all works.
7. Allow participants to interact with each other:
Through chat functions, break-out rooms or simply at breaks, allow participants to chat and interact so there is a feeling of comradery and so they get an opportunity to do some of the networking they were likely to do, had the event been face to face.
8. Have a how-to slide at the start:
There will be the inevitable glitches at the start; someone’s video isn’t on, someone else is on mute, you can hear someone’s dog in the background! Create a holding slide for when people enter the webinar which states on it that ideally people should use headphones, people should have the mute button on to prevent background noise, and to explain chat functions or how interactive elements will work. The more you can trouble-shoot at the start, the smoother your webinar will be.
9. Ensure registration and private link access:
We have already seem some blunders and some dangers with the sharp increase in online delivery, which has caused Zoom to change some of their features. Make sure you have a registration page for your participants so you know who should be there, a secure and private link for them to take part through and a strong passwords for each participant to enter before taking part.
10. Get help if you can!
Most platforms allow you to create a co-host (although its not necessary to do this), if you can, ask another member of your team or a trusted person to deliver the webinar with you to keep track of questions coming through and participant support, to give you freedom to concentrate on high quality delivery.
Whilst we are all looking for new ways to deliver our work and connect across Scotland, the current situation has highlighted and in many cases, further embedded, the digital gap and economic inequalities across society. This includes a lack of access to internet, unaffordable tech and low levels of digital literacy. In order for us to truly be engaging all individuals and to tackle barriers to participation and opportunity, we must tackle this deep rooted inequality. A number of third sector, private and public organisations have come together to do this – can you help? Find out more