Web Conferencing Guidance

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This is a living doc please add your content/experiences, so that we can all get more proficient with these tools and methods. Thanks!

Contents

Webinar Overview

Web conferencing refers to a service that allows conferencing events to be shared with remote locations. These are sometimes referred to as webinars or, for interactive conferences, online workshops.

With increasing limitations on travel, the need to maintain transparency and openness, we are being asked more often to offer remote access. These meetings can be entirely virtual or blended hybrid meetings, part in-person and part remote.

One important component of a successful webinar is remembering that there are multiple channels of communication shared audio, chat, docs, webcams and screen collectively enhance the experience. Beyond what happens during the webinar – both pre- and post-follow-up makes the experience more engaging for participants.

One fear to providing a webinar is that it will cannibalize your audience. This is a myth.

This is a living document and will continue to evolve as we learn more about creating and implementing successful webinars.

Webinar Event Planning & Implementation

Successful webinars, like any meeting require a bit of preparation and planning in order to ensure that they run smoothly. We’ve all been to the meeting where the host can’t find the ‘share screen’ or the audio was a mess.

Webinar Topic

Identify topics and presenters that would be of interest to your target audience. Webinars are a great way to raise exposure for your group. Keeping a running list of topics or potential presenters is one way to keep things fresh. Another caveat – don’t meet to meet. There is no reason to have a monthly call if there is nothing new to share.

Audience

Any successful webinar must first consider the audience. Who will you attempt to influence with your webinar content? Since the webinar program may have several target audiences in mind, describe each audience fully in your plan:

  • Who are they? Identify them as specifically as possible – ensuring that you serve their information needs effectively through a webinar.
  • What do they need to know? Describe the information needs of your audience(s) and how you will fulfill them through a webinar.
  • Where do they tend to get their information? Understanding their preferred and trusted information sources is useful as you promote your webinars, ideally through these sources.

Suggested Planning Tasks

Pre-Webinar:

  • Identifying topic, goals, host, target audience and presenters
  • Select date and time
  • Launching promotions and registration
  • Prepare email invite
  • Schedule a dry-run/rehearsal – equipment and sound check, test polling, Q&A, chat features, conference call #
  • Promote through social media channels as needed and on homepage
  • Prepare background materials for attendees
  • Consider preparing poll questions to keep audience engaged
  • Send reminder emails to attendees
  • Send login to host, speakers, presenters

Post-Webinar:

  • Debrief with presenters, host and speakers on next steps, successes and failures
  • Upload Presentations and any other promised material
  • Follow-up email to attendee with recording, presentation links
  • Leverage the content to create additional blogs, best-practices or other documentation
  • Evaluate the webinar –
    • Some metrics might be:# of registrants, #of live attendees, # that watch post-event, social mentions, new vs. returning

Webinar Format

Applications for web conferencing include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Team Meetings
  • Short Presentations
  • Training Events
  • Demos
  • Online Courses
  • Product Launches
  • Lectures
  • Customer Service

Beyond these, get creative with the layout and delivery of your content. There are a lot of options beyond the generic slideshow.

  • Begin with Intro to topic, break for hands-on portion, resume call with time for small group discussion Q&A
  • Tour of vendor booths, posters or demos that the remote participants would otherwise miss.
  • Celebrity calls – in our group this could be access to high level program managers

Technical Requirements

  • Computer
  • Internet connection - An upload speed of at least 350 Kbps* is recommended for best performance.
    • Test your upload speed: www.speedtest.net
    • Test your connection quality: www.pingtest.net
  • Microphone for computer or phone connection
  • Webcam (optional)
  • This site will run a test to make sure you have the requirements needed: http://www.instantpresenter.com/WebConference/systemtest/Default.aspx?step=2
  • Tips for meetups at low bandwidth locations
    • Many hotels have very poor connectivity. The speed at my venue was ~3.3Mbps. (For comparison, in my lab it is ~115Mbps.) This is insufficient for streaming as the streaming drops out.
    • Use a phone for audio. If the streaming cuts out it's not as bad if you still have audio
      • If you can, bring a telecommunications tool, e.g., a PolyCom, which provides movable microphones and good amplification
    • Bring amplified laptop speakers no matter what, as it is your audio of last resort
    • Ahead of time, at the venue test the connectivity and all the equipment on which you will rely

Host & Facilitator Tips

  1. Format a plan for handling chat, polling and Q&A during the call
  2. Turn on your webcam. It provides context for the remote attendees.
  3. Start the meeting 15 mins early
  4. Be conscious of the remote attendees
  5. Plan alternate activities for remote attendees if there is an in-room discussion
  6. Identify ways to mute and unmute participant audio.
  7. Use a wired internet connection. Particularly important if you are sharing a wifi connection with rest of a large in-house audience.

Participant Tip

  1. Show up a few minutes before show time.
  2. Raise the issue if you are having trouble hearing/seeing.
  3. Mute your line if you aren’t talking

Webinar Platform

This website provided a comprehensive: http://webinar-services-review.toptenreviews.com/

The top sites in this community are:

  • Adobe Connect
  • Cisco Webex
  • GoTo Meeting


There are also free alternatives:

  • Google Hangout for up to 10
  • FreeConferenceCall.com

Suggested Equipment

  • Logitech WebCam
    • Logitech HD Webcam C525, Portable HD 720p Video Calling with Autofocus
    • Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910
  • In-Room Microphone
    • MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone
  • USB Speakers
  • Camera Tripod
    • Mini Adjustable Tripod+camera Holder for Iphone and Other Cellphone

Additional Resources

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