Do you webinar?
Have you noticed that people seem to have stopped talking about the ‘new normal’? In early 2020, as we all hunkered down to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, you couldn’t move for predictions of what the new normal would be. Now? Not so much. Maybe people have lost interest in predicting the future. Maybe it was only fun to speculate before we began to realise just how long the pandemic would be with us. And maybe, in some respects at least, the new normal is not so new anymore, it’s just normal…
One of those respects is webinar-based training.
With lockdowns and furlough schemes and home working wherever possible, 2020 saw the rise of webinars as an increasingly popular (and practical) training option. When a suddenly huge segment of the working population was sitting at home in front of a laptop, rapidly becoming expert users of Zoom, webinars (or ‘virtual training’, ‘online training’, call it what you will) became the model of choice. Maximum’s own L&D survey in 2020 found more than three-quarters of respondents had converted 50% or more of their classroom training to webinars.
A webinar can provide group learning, strong visuals, interaction and discussion, and almost a sense of ‘classroom’ normality at a time when normality is in short supply.
So, what boxes do webinars tick that not all other alternative learning methods do?
- Concentrated learning – The often no-frills delivery method can give a focus to the webinar topic; an hour of webinar can get through more material than an hour of classroom.
- Accessibility – The technology-based webinar format goes some way to levelling the experience. If any participants have any particular accessibility needs, it’s much easier to add subtitles or make other adjustments to the content to ensure equality of access (and often, those adjustments are made by the participant themselves, the person best-placed to know what they need).
- More memorable – Well, ‘memorable’ may depend on the content and presentation but with the option of recording proceedings, the content and discussion from a webinar can be available to participants after the event. And also to anyone else who was interested but couldn’t attend.
- Convenience and ease – You don’t have to travel (except maybe to your home office if you have one), just switch on and log in. This means less downtime or time lost. This also makes webinars a relatively cheap training option.
- Familiarity – Strangely enough, the popularity of webinars as a ‘new’ method of learning may come down to their touch of comfortable familiarity. A group of people, common learning goals, a presentation by a trainer/facilitator, the opportunity to ask and discuss questions… a webinar is often very like a good, old-fashioned classroom training course attended via a laptop screen.
Top tips for attending webinars
The absence of a classroom per se effectively means that there are as many ‘classrooms’ for a webinar as there are participants. This places at least part of the responsibility for creating a conducive learning environment on the individual learners. If you’re attending a webinar, the practical basics are:
- Find a quiet place. Or at least as quiet as possible with minimal outside noise.
- Make sure you won’t be interrupted.
- Check your equipment is working. Videoconferencing apps and technology are especially mischievous when you’re unfamiliar with them. Take a bit of time to get familiar.
- Check your background. What is hanging on the wall or sitting on the bookshelves behind you? If it’s likely to be distracting (or worse, inappropriate) for the trainer or your fellow participants, remove it… or change your camera angle.
- Check your light. How brightly lit is the space you’re in? Is your image glaring for others, or maybe you’re lurking in the shadows?
Webinars are a part of the new normal for learning and development. The last 12 months or so have proven that. Whatever skills or knowledge you need to acquire, there’s likely a webinar offering them: convenient, timely, safe (from infection), and – sometimes – free…
At Maximum Performance, we were early adopters of webinars as an option for continued delivery of quality L&D during the pandemic. As a kind of proof of concept, we regularly offer a menu of free-to-attend, short (45-minute) webinar sessions on a wide range of topics. Think of it as a sort of ‘training tapas’.
Our latest menu of webinars for 2022 – on a range of topics from hybrid working to coaching to workplace investigations, and more – are available for you to sign up now. Or simply call us on 01582 463462. We’re here to help.