Public services constantly have to change and adapt, so it’s no surprise that the way we share learning has to too. Here’s how you can make the most of your webinars
By GUEST EDITOR Dyfrig Williams
Anyone who’s run an event will know that they’re expensive things. So to complement our shared learning seminars, the Good Practice Exchange at the Wales Audit Office have been running webinars on a range of topics that affect public services. Here’s some of what we’ve learnt so far.
Doing things differently is always nerve racking. I haven’t been as nervous as the first time I clicked the ‘begin webinar’ button for quite some time. Helen Reynolds has blogged about how she’s finding her feet with podcasting and isn’t actively promoting her efforts with Ben Proctor. Similarly, our first webinar was a pilot webinar with twenty attendees from an IT seminar. If it went wrong, it wasn’t the end of the world, but fortunately it didn’t.
More is more
There’s nothing worse than going to an event and being bombarded with slides and being talked at non-stop. At our events, we ask presenters to stick to about 5 slides so that they’re telling their story, not reading their Powerpoints. When I watched a few webinars to see what other people do, it came as a bit of a shock to realise that loads of slides kept the viewer interested. This means that there are more screen changes and that there’s more visual stimulation. However don’t try and pack too much into your slides - they’re a visual accompaniment to what the speaker is saying rather than a word by word account.
Powerpoint has a bad rep, but usually it’s because of the way it’s used rather than the tool itself. But using a new or different presentation tool can encourage you to jazz up your presentations. I used Prezi for our last webinar on procurement fraud, and it’s much easier to get creative because Google Images is embedded in it. Haiku Deck might also help you to think a little differently about how you present your slides.
Presentations can encourage people to talk at their audience rather than with them. Like all good events, webinars need to be interactive so you can get the most out of the knowledge of your speakers and audience. We take questions via the in-built mechanism in the software, and we also take questions and observations from the Twitter hashtag that we set up for each webinar. Twitter has helped us to gather lots of insights from people around the webinar topic, and we’ve managed to involve many more people than those who are actively taking part in the webinar.
Feedback is your friend
Listening to people’s feedback is essential, because it gives you the means to improve your next effort. People told us that they’d like to see the speakers so that they can see who they’re interacting with, so we invested in a webcam. Whilst we’re not the most polished of acts behind the scenes, the live feed shows our human sides and it helps to clarify which speaker is making which point in the discussion.
We’re a work in progress and we’re by no means the finished article, so if you’ve got any ideas about how we can improve our webinars, please get in touch. We’re always keen to hear about your good practice at the Good Practice Exchange!
Dyfrig Williams is Good Practice Exchange Officer at the Wales Audit Office
(and he has great taste in music and blogs about it here.)