Webinars can be cost effective and, if done correctly, can be as effective as face-to-face training events for corporate learning and development organizations.
When we think of the costs related to webinars, we tend to think of cost savings. We’re not paying for class rooms, whiteboards, projectors, tables, and travel. We’re saving money there! The webinar software? This could be seen as a zero sum game – we are reusing our virtual meeting software!
IS THE PLATFORM REALLY A ZERO SUM GAME?
I facilitated training events using a webinar tool which did not allow me to pre-load polling questions. There were only five questions throughout a 90 minute webinar. However, even using cut and paste to enter the polls on the fly, 2 minutes was wasted and lessened the effectiveness of using polling. 2 minutes doesn’t sound like much until you realize this represents 2% of the total training time. It felt like forever. Participants were waiting – something you never want to have happen during a webinar.
We moved to another platform that allowed the polling questions to be pre-loaded, meaning no wasted time and polling questions being an effective part of the learning event. So if the virtual, collaborative, webinar platform truly supports learning, this truly is a zero sum game. Otherwise, it really isn’t.
YOU ONLY NEED THE PRESENTER, RIGHT?
Only someone who has not been in the webinar crucible would think that the presenter can do this on their own. While the presenter is talking, the participants are chatting: “I couldn’t register for this session, how can I get credit?” “I can’t hear the presenter” “I have a question about the point the presenter just made…”
During the 90 minute webinar, I moderated the session, handled registration/technical questions, verbalized the content questions to the presenters during the final Q&A portion of the session, and closed the session. I also had a weather eye on my email during the beginning of the session to see if there were any last minute registration questions.
My preference is to have three people helping at each session, one presenting, one moderating, one helping with technical problems. Two is the bare minimum. One is a recipe for disaster.
Voice Over IP Headsets are recommended by webinar software providers. If you have an organization of 20 people, this cost is negligible. However, if your enterprise is over 10,000 people, this could be a small cost that just adds up.
Are there any other unexpected costs you have encountered in your journey of using webinars for live training sessions?
Microsoft. (2014). Figures carrying away dollar bills [Digital Image]. Used with permission from Microsoft. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=dollar&ex=1#ai:MC900448680|