My first ‘real’ webinar (3) – The content

Dear readers,

It’s been a little longer than a week;-)… Since the Corona pandemic I have somehow ‘lost’ the feeling for time. Sometimes it goes by very fast and sometimes it seems it takes forever. I wanted to be faster in ‘blogging’, but just because of Corona I was slowed down from time to time by doing lot’s of other things, necessary to keep my business up and running.
But nevertheless – better later than never! So today it’s time for the preserves. I have to say, a good online course has its pitfalls and especially the content is very challenging. You really have to plan very well. In any case, you should not forget that the attention span of the audience is very short. Especially if you are dealing with younger people you should include some interesting web tools to be sure of their attention.

Time required

I have found that I can only use a maximum of two thirds or about 70% of the content in a web event, which I can normally convey in a face-to-face event. There are several reasons for this: For one thing, it always takes time for the participants to activate the microphone or they speak while muting the mic. In that case, they have to repeat it. Also, everyone speaks less overall. Generally, you should speak more slowly, so that if your internet connection is bad, the other person can hear everything well. Another problem is the interruptions caused by bad Internet connections and this can sometimes take minutes.
Even though online seminars have become a part of our everyday life – there are still people who have not had much or no experience with them in the present time. In addition, there are different formats. So, it makes sens to bring everybody up to a certain knowledge level of the program used and what you expect from your audience.

1st advice: It makes sense to schedule a date before the seminar takes place, when the participants can test the access and ask some questions in advance. It is also very important to have a ‘netiquette’, i.e. a short introduction to how the trainer wants the participants to communicate with each other. A short introduction to the program to be used can also be helpful. A handout with screenshots and short explanations can be very helpful and supportive.

Using new ‘tools’

Especially in school or university, teachers sometimes use new tools. But this topic is also important when you deal with other target groups. If this is the first time you as a teacher are using the tool with a number of participants, this should be said beforehand. Why? For one thing, it is quite possible that something does not work for several minutes. In general it takes time to solve the problem and I have to keep my participants happy during this time. Advantage of dealing with students is that most young people are persistent and have a really relaxed mind. I think they all had to ‘suffer’ quite a lot in the last few months. So their level of suffering is generally quite high. They are usually very supportive and open. In the last seminar we went troubleshooting as a group. In this case I used the expertise of my students to get the tool working.

2nd advice: Do not despair when using new tools, but also do not pretend to be Mr or Ms Super-Clever. Together you find usually faster what went wrong and at the same time you have developed a great team-building opportunity.

You-Tube makes (sometimes) the difference

I have also started to make You-Tube my own. There is some extraordinary good content, which I could never produce in this way. On the subject of ‘intercultural communication’ there are sometimes very good videos on You-Tube. I thought that they are good in terms of content, cover many areas and are varied. Also important is the duration of a video. It shouldn’t be more than 3-5 minutes long. If it is longer you should remember right at the beginning which section you need and prepare it or you cut it yourself with a video-cutting program.
You can download videos from Youtube without paying and there are a lot of add-ons or programs available for free, which you can download. I personally decided to use VidPaw for Windows (Link: https://www.vidpaw.com/vidpaw-for-windows/) which is really simple and if you only want to download a few videos it is enough.   

3rd advice: Take your time and search Youtube with the help of different keywords. Don’t always take the first videos, but look across. With time you will get a feeling for what and who is good and what you can use.

‘The director’s schedule’

What really helps is a clear structure of what you want to do and when. Also that you really prepare everything beforehand, i.e. open the respective pages and  programs you want to use. At the beginning of a seminar it is important to have prepared some Ice-Breakers. Mentimeter (Link: www.mentimeter.com) is really good for this. I love Menti! It is interactive and you get so much out of it! In real time you can get feedback and assessments from the participants without having to ask everyone individually. The tool is already used internationally very often – in our country it is mostly used in large companies but not so much in teaching or knowledge transfer.

What is good about ‘Menti’ is the use of the mobile phone, because the participants use the mobile phone to enter the answers. All they have to do is go to Mentimeter’s website and enter the code that the instructor has already entered. Then they come to a slide that you have already prepared. As most people nowadays have a heavy heart when they give their mobile phone away, it is useful to use it. Especially for online-seminars – it is awesome!

CONCLUSION: Preparation and conscientious planning is not only half of life but also the key to success – especially in the preparation and execution of an online event.

In the next blog, I will also introduce other tools, I use. 
Have fun while trying and see you soon – stay healthy, Waltraud