I recently arranged some regional webinars for project staff working on Seeing is Believing (SiB) projects, as a way of enhancing learning between projects. We arranged webinars for the Africa, South East Asia & Western Pacific regions. Over 60 people attended 1 or more webinar.
I thought I would share my top 10 tips, for anyone thinking about arranging webinars too!
- Find out what people want to discuss
Most project managers are quite clear on the areas they would like to know more about in order to improve their work. So just ask them what they would like to discuss. We sent around a survey to find out people’s preferences – they chose ‘Strengthening Eye Health Systems’.
- Have a clear structure
Great to have a topic, but you don’t want the webinar turning into a random chat. We had 2 presenters for each webinar, with a question & answer session at the end (facilitated by me).
- Select a system everyone can use – and hear!
We have 41 projects all around the world, so we wanted to use a system every one could access. Some systems can’t be used in certain countries e.g. China, and in other systems the sound quality gets worse the more people join. There is nothing worse than being on a call & only hearing half of the discussion. We used a system called GoToMeeting, which worked for us well in all regions.
- Give yourself enough time to arrange webinars
You would be amazed (or maybe not) how tricky it is to pin down 2 incredibly busy project managers, to arrange dates for a webinar & test webinar. Give yourself enough time to arrange & conduct both the test & actual webinar.
- Always do a test webinar with your presenters before the actual one
Just in case…… Also the presenters appreciate the practice if it is the 1st time for them. It also helps keep presenters to time.
- Record it!
Not everyone will be able to make your webinar (despite sending out a million reminders!). We recorded the webinars & put them on the IAPB website, so people could listen to them at a later date. Click here to view them:
- Get a techie friend to hold your hand
I’m not the most technological person you will meet, and I had never facilitated a webinar before, so I got someone who is ‘tech confident’ to sit with me, just in case of any tech problems.
- Make sure your system can manage the number of people you expect.
Doing the SiB webinars was a bit of leap for faith for us. We weren’t sure how many people would join, I thought maybe 10 would join. Unfortunately for our Africa region, the system only allowed 25 people to join, so we had to turn some people away! We did change the system for our other webinars, which was lucky because 26 people joined our South East Asia webinar!
- Send out a survey straight after the webinar
It is so valuable to get people’s feedback on how the webinar went & how it can be improved. So although we did receive some emails from participants, we also sent out a survey after the webinars. We found:
· 100% of people who completed the survey said that the webinar enhanced their knowledge of eye health systems
· 78% of people said they identified strategies that could be used in their SiB projects
· 100% of people will attend future SiB webinars
- Diversity gives us all a richer experience
Everyone has learning they can share with others, so don’t restrict your speakers. Ensure you have a range of experienced, new to the sector, male, female, NGO staff, Hospital staff, for a richness of discussion.