10 tips for better webinars

3 min read
Ancient statue of a man with his face in his palm. The text on the image reads 'Sorry. I was on mute. 10 tips for better webinars."

My brother-in-law is a member of the BC Institute of Agrologists and approached me a few weeks ago to do a professional development session with the organization. Like everyone, when COVID hit the organization suddenly had to shift all of their face-to-face events, including their professional development offerings, online. So my brother-in-law approached me to see if I could put together a session with some tips and tricks that could help them improve their online events and webinars.

While I was planning to do a webinar on webinars, the final event ended up being a HyFlex event as the executive & members decided that they wanted to have a face-to-face event. So I Zoom’d into their monthly meeting to present on a big screen in the room (with a few people attending in the Zoom from where I was) and did a 30-minute session outlining 10 things they could do to improve their online webinars. I’ve got another blog post coming on some thoughts on HyFlex events as I have just started working with the BCcampus Teaching & Learning team on a HyFlex event about HyFlex. But for now here are the slides and my notes from the event.

Slide notes

  1. Land acknowledgment
    • Acknowledge your land & ask in chat for others to do same
    • Make a personal connection
    • A small step towards reconciliation – an acknowledgment that we live and work on indigenous lands
    • Territories overlap
    • native-land.ca
  2. Find out about your audience
    • Ask ahead of time – who will be there? How many people are you expecting? What is their level of knowledge? What is the reason for the get together? What tech will be used? Zoom? How much interaction will you be able to have with the participants? Will there be a chat?
    • Mentimeter poll to start – find level of knowledge of participants
  3. Interactivity
    • Shoot for something interactive every 20-30 minutes
    • Polls & chat
    • Breakout rooms
    • Share a link to a Google Doc
  4. Set a welcoming tone
    • Greet people as they come into the room.
    • Ask people to introduce themselves in the chat
    • Make people comfortable in virtual spaces
    • Explain the ground rules
      • Will you be using the chat during the session? Can they ask questions there?
      • Request they mute their mic. Keep control of the controls so you can mute and unmute people
      • Cameras on or off?
  5. Use a computer
    • Do not present using a cell phone or tablet
    • Set up your screen and use all the real estate you can
      • PPT – set to Reading View v presentation mode
    • Check your wifi – plug in if possible bandwidth heavy events
  6. Adjust your webcam
    • Avoid looking up nose
    • Eye level – make eye contact with camera
    • Laptop stand ($10) or books
    • External webcam with higher resolution
    • Frame yourself in the pic
  7. Light your space
    • Light source behind & slightly above the camera
    • Camera ring – or a lamp
    • No windows behind
    • Overhead lights can throw shadows
    • Frame your shot
  8. Use a headset
    • The words you say are much more important that the visuals. People need to hear you
    • Laptop mic’s are not great. Can also pick up bg noise
    • Avoid apple ear pods – audio quality of mic is very poor
    • Over ear headphones help shut out external sound
  9. Location
    • Quiet
    • Check lighting
    • Check your background – uncluttered
    • Virtual bg and/or blur are ok, but keep them neutral
  10. One point per slide
    • Break complex info
    • Use visuals – unsplash.com
    • Use built in templates – save time & pro design
  11. Q&A

One Comment

Stephen Downes November 22, 2021

These are good tips, and what I like is that they don’t amount to something like “you should never present anything in a webinar and should always use small group activities instead” or some such thing. here’s the full presentation on SlideShare (with all the popups and come-ons reminding me exactly why I left the platform when it was sold to Scribd).

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