The rise of webinars and virtual training

It should be no surprise that in these pandemic times, working from home, isolating, avoiding infection… learning and development options that don’t require face to face contact or travel are becoming increasingly popular. Cue the rise of the webinar.

From sales to training

Go back a few years and webinars were basically a marketing tool. Basically, extended online presentations with the opportunity to buy, sign up or subscribe at the end (the virtual equivalent of those timeshare presentations you get invited to while on holiday on the Costa del Sol or Tenerife). These days, the word ‘webinar’ is more likely to refer to a specific learning experience; an online workshop, a virtual training session, a live class (arguably returning to the word’s ‘web’+‘seminar’ roots).

A modern webinar is a bite sized (max. 60-90 minutes) learning experience, focused on a specific, contained topic. Attendees can expect information, discussion, case studies, group exercises, whiteboard activities and practical role-play scenarios. Tools available include interactive whiteboards, polls, chats, virtual breakout rooms… In fact, everything you’d expect in a face-to-face training course, including supporting materials and pre- and post-event resources. Webinars can and should be a very active learning experience, and these days tend to be a world away from the presentation slide deck and commentary approach, and much more effective in terms of learning takeaways.

Webinar stats

To broaden the picture and/or tickle your curiosity further, here’s a collection of webinar-related statistics (all taken from the 99firms website):

  • 93% of participants prefer use a desktop computer for webinars.
  • 24% of all webinar places are registered on a Tuesday.
  • 35% of attendees sign up a week or less before the webinar.
  • Q&As are used by 81% of webinars.
  • Thursdays are the best day for a webinar (with Monday and Friday being the worst, predictably).
  • 35-45% of people who register for a webinar actually attend.

Webinar benefits

Naturally, the big current (and foreseeable future) benefit of using webinars for training is the prevention of face to face contact for participants – very important in these times of pandemia! As well as this obvious plus point, webinars are:

  • Travel-free – no one travels to a venue, they just log on; much better for the environment.
  • Cheaper – no travel costs, nor overnight accommodation; and no need to print paper copies of materials.
  • Less disruptive – the crucial ‘time spent away from the desk’ is reduced, meaning less downtime before and after the webinar.
  • Focused – the compact format forces a tighter focus in terms of (micro)topic and materials.
  • Recordable – it’s common for webinars to be recorded, allowing participants to refer back to the session when necessary.
  • Accessible – the technology base means that adjustments to visuals, addition of subtitles and other measures to ensure wide accessibility can be done easily.

The future picture

Not only because of the current global crisis, webinars are shaping up to be a popular learning tool in the future. Expect to see more interactive tools and techniques emerging, to further increase the engagement options for participants. Expect to see more webinar series, with linked micro topic events being used to provide a consecutive sequence of bite sized learning that when taken together are anything but ‘micro’. Finally, expect concerns about online security to influence the choice of webinar platforms and tools.

By way of an example of what’s available, Maximum Performance offers a wide range of webinars, all of which can be tailored into bespoke versions specific to your needs. Our current Working From Home series includes Coaching skills in a time of COVID, Working from home, HR and employment law issues, Maintaining mental wellbeing, Prioritising when working from home, Remote management, Safe working at home, Self-motivation when working from home, Staying connect when working from home, Staying healthy when working from home, and Stress and resilience. We also offer webinar content on management development, leadership, and cultural intelligence, and series of free ‘taster’ sessions throughout 2020. Or you could just call us on 01582 463460. We’re here to help.

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