Your time is precious, right? So when it comes to attending a webinar, you want to get the most out of your time—not to mention the registration fee that your company (or maybe even you yourself) paid. And if the webinar-based training is required for your job, as it is for the technology transfer consultants we employ at Fuentek, then you really want to get the most out of it.
In my last post I wrote about what trainers can do to make their webinars more successful. In this post I want to talk about what you can do as an attendee to get the most out of the webinar.
1. Remove all distractions. You have to work a lot harder to stay focused when you’re in a webinar, so minimize the distractions. Close down your e-mail, IM, and other unnecessary software programs. Shut off your phones (except the one you’re using, of course). Put away ongoing projects and paperwork. You might even want to turn photos around and hide other knick-knacks. You wouldn’t have this stuff in your way in a lecture hall, so don’t have it on your desk during a webinar.
2. Don’t be shy when you’re confused. Because they can’t see your face, the trainers do not know that you’re lost. So go ahead and ask, and don’t be embarrassed. Think about it: You’re far more anonymous in a webinar than in on-site training, so you risk nothing socially by asking a question. You risk far more in terms of value by keeping quiet, so go for it!
3. Speak up. The quality of the phone, how close you are to the mic, and how loudly you speak when asking a question all contribute to the overall experience. Speak loudly and clearly when asking a question, especially if you’re in a roomful of colleagues webinaring (is that a verb?!) together.
4. Chime in quickly. Pauses feel endless to trainers as they wait for attendees’ feedback or questions. So jump right in and respond quickly so you don’t risk having the trainer plow ahead. If you’re feeling confused but are not sure how to ask for help, go ahead and say, “I do have a question but I’m not sure how to phrase it yet, so if others have questions they can go first.” That lets others feel more comfortable with participating in the discussion (because they’re not the first to admit to feeling confused) and gives you time to formulate your question.
5. Be considerate. For as much as I’m telling you to chime in, be sure you’re not monopolizing the Q&A. Just as the trainers can’t see your face, you can’t see theirs (and those of the other attendees). So if you’ve been talking a lot, be sure to pause and give someone else a chance. And always put your phone on mute when you’re not asking a question. Typing of notes, sneezes and coughing, and other noises greatly detract from the webinar experience.