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Online Trainings in the Time of COVID-19 (& Beyond): A Best Practices Guide

By: Christina Anderson and Kristoffer Kjeldsen

After attending the ICC conference in Las Vegas this spring, we were tasked with sharing the highlights of what we learned with the office.

By April, when our presentation was scheduled, most states had shelter in place orders in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our offices were looking different with over 50 employees working from home and trying not to gather in large groups.

We made the best of it and decided to move the presentation to Microsoft Teams, where we had already been holding weekly office meetings and team check-ins. Utilizing the live event feature, we turned the presentation into an opportunity both to share new information with the whole office, and to learn how to present a webinar.

Here are some things we learned to help your next webinar run smoothly.

Testing 1, 2, 3 

Test your software and test it again. Whether you are using Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, or any of the other presentation software out there, it’s important to get familiar with the platform and any features that might be helpful.

When testing the live event feature of Teams, we discovered that we would need help managing the Q and A queue and that there were differences between what producers and presenters could do within the program.

Assign a Moderator 

Even with the two of us presenting, we knew it would be a challenge to keep track of the discussion and question features. We asked a coworker to help moderate the questions and commentary so that we could focus on the presentation and prepare to respond to questions.

Graphics Matter 

Graphics are even more important to a webinar. Unlike an in-person presentation, viewers will see your slides up close. Take advantage of this to provide visual aids.

Know Your Material 

If you have more than one presenter covering a subject, it is important to remember that the traditional body language and other physical cues that presenters rely upon to make the presentation seamless are not there. Preparation and good knowledge of each other’s presentation material is necessary. Practice runs, even informally are good.

Test Audiences

As previously mentioned, communicative body language is not always there, and the format of the presentation may not convey the concepts as the presenter intended. Test your audiences! Even casually listening to a practice run can help identify these gaps.

Forget Perfection

Your first webinar might not be perfect, but that’s okay. We are all dealing with a learning curve as we dive into new technology and platforms that are outside of our comfort zones. You might experience some technical difficulties or forget to unmute, but as long as you recover from it and keep presenting, your audience will forgive you.

Our presentation was well received by our coworkers and followed up by an informative question and answer session and we look forward to viewing and presenting future office wide webinars!

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