4 Tips on Facilitating Webinars and Live Remote Training

Webinars and live remote video training are quite popular and low-barrier options for digital learning in organisations. At times where increasingly many are working from home, we’ve seen a big uptick on the use of these mediums. However, many are still trying out these methods for the first time. For those who are new to the medium, or want to revise their existing practice, we decided to compile a few useful but sometimes overlooked tips from a facilitator’s perspective. Let’s take a look on facilitating webinars!

Disable participant videos in big groups

While it’s nice to see the faces of your participants and peers, running continuous live video may become a usability issue. This is because of bandwidth. Whereas a regular team video meeting runs fine on just about any platform, you may experience connection drops with larger groups, depending on your configuration. Transmitting video in two directions requires a lot more bandwidth than one-way delivery.

Therefore, when facilitating webinars, drop participant video streams in big groups or close their cameras unless absolutely necessary. If you have several dozens of people on the webinar, the interactivity is bound to drop anyways. In fact, when tuning into a presentation for instance, additional faces may even become a distraction.

Use text chats for questions and comments

When facilitating webinars, it’s often a good idea to also use the text chat instead of audio for learners to ask questions and comment. This has two major benefits. Firstly, you’ll avoid the messy moment when everyone is talking out of turn. Secondly, posing questions in writing enables others to read them too, in case they did not get it the first time. Furthermore, it also enables the facilitator to read the question to themselves before answering.

Get a separate moderator for larger sessions

When participant numbers exceed several, it’s often a good idea to bring an a separate moderator. While this helps to take some of the administrative responsibility off the shoulders of the facilitator, it also helps in a few other ways. For instance, the moderator can keep an eye on the discussion stream as the webinar progresses, to get an idea of questions that come up. Often, facilitating webinars already requires extra effort, so make sure to not overstretch the facilitator with too much responsibility. Additionally, a moderator can also prompt the facilitator to explore particular topics in more depth, based on immediate user feedback. During Q&As with large groups, it’s also rare that every question gets answered. Therefore, the moderator can curate the stream of questions ahead of time, to make sure that enough ground is covered.

Record sessions for later use

Many webinar tools come with the option of recording sessions. Generally, there are two great reasons for making use of that function. First of all, recording a session enables the facilitator to review their own performance. They can get an idea of what it looked like from a participant’s point of view, and adjust their own setup accordingly.

Secondly, informative sessions often provide good material for future learning activities. Good training videos take time to produce, and by recording sessions you can get a lot of raw material quickly. However, the emphasis on the word ‘raw’ material. We don’t generally recommend using recorded webinars as-is, and just upload them for users to later view. That rarely happens. Rather, there’s a great potential use for these recordings with a little bit of post-production work. Editing the videos, clipping them into digestible pieces and weeding out the less useful parts of the recording is a good starting point. From thereon, you could also use different tools to make the recording interactive. This helps to keep up learners’ engagement as they view the video at their own pace.

Final thoughts on facilitating webinars

While webinars are a widely used medium, it’s often the small things in their execution that make or break the experience. Whereas on this post we focused more on perhaps the “technical” aspects of running a webinar, it’s also important for facilitators to work on engaging the learners in different ways during sessions (here are some tips for that). And while live remote training is a great low-cost alternative, remember not to overdo it either. Other types of interactive digital learning activities may often provide better alternatives for conveying a message.

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