On Monday I presented my first Webinar for Regional Support Centre Eastern on Blogs, Wikis and more: Web 2.0 demystified for information professionals. Earlier today I presented my second Webinar, also for RSC Eastern on Blogs, Wikis and more: Web 2.0 demystified for learning and teaching professionals. We had almost 20 people for each webinar – at the second apparently nine people were sat round a conference phone listening in. It was really exciting stuff (for me – not too sure about the participants!). Not quite a baptism of fire but still a big learning experience.
I’ve blogged about my previous attempts at using Elluminate but, despite the practice, actually presenting for a whole hour was quite an experience.
The screen dump above shows the Elluminate application and the Colchester Institute Web cam.
A few thoughts and lessons learnt…
1. It’s quiet out there
Presenting to an audience who you can’t look at or hear is very strange. There’s no body language, eye contact or verbal utterances to help you know you’re pitching it at the right level. For all you know you could be talking to yourself. You just have to believe that they are still there and are still listening. I did ask for questions at certain points but it’s probably a difficult environment in which to do that. Maybe I’ll get some questions by email.
Lesson Learnt: Have faith, they are still listening, well..at least one person is so you’ll just have to keep going.
2. An hour in Webinar time seems to be shorter than an hour in real time
I had a quite a lot prepared but the time just seemed to fly by and the participants didn’t get very long to ‘try stuff out’. Although I’d rather have too much stuff than nothing to say maybe it’s better not to try to cover too much. I didn’t read anything out from notes, Web 2.0 stuff is something I talk about a lot and it felt more natural to just talk rather than read. I hope the participants feel this worked OK.
Lesson Learnt: The time flies by when you are talking to yourself!
3. You need a good admin team
The RSC Eastern team (Maryse Fisher and Shri Footring) were great. They did a fab job of getting people to sign up for the sessions and were great support. Some really useful notes on how to plan a successful Webinar are available from Techsoup – RSC eastern have obviously read them.
Lesson Learnt: A good admin team are key.
4. Make sure there are no distractions
It’s a real worry that someone will ring your doorbell or call you up while you are presenting. I actually hid my land line phone so I wouldn’t be able to hear it if it rang. The problem was I couldn’t find it afterwards!
Lesson Learnt: Remember where you’ve hidden your phone!
5. Little things can throw you
During my first presentation the ‘hand raised’ icon lit up and started beeping. This completely threw me, I wasn’t 100% sure other moderators could see it or were able to deal with it. It was almost like when someone presses the ‘call air hostess’ button on a plane and you suddenly get quite agitated. You want to know what’s the problem, is someone going to sort it out? I found I just couldn’t relax till the the icon went back to normal.
Lesson Learnt: Ignore other stuff that’s going on and focus on your slides.
6. Having a Participant view wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped
I had my laptop set up to show the participant’s view. It was good to glance at and check they could see the same things but there just wasn’t the time to scrutinise it. During my first presentation I was a little concerned people could see my comments to the other moderators (it wasn’t that I was saying anything particularly private I just didn’t want them to see my general paranoia!) but I didn’t get a chance to check.
Lesson Learnt: Let the other moderators deal with the stuff that is going on. Sending messages to only the moderators does what it says on the tin.
7. Try to block out the chat pane
I was confused over whether I should check the chat pane or ignore it. I found it a bit of a distraction really. Maybe I’m not as good at multi-tasking as I thought. Or maybe when you are presenting you just need to go into a ‘zone’ and checking a chat pane keeps dragging you out of it.
Lesson Learnt: Ditto what it says in point 5.
8. I don’t want to listen to what I’ve said
I remember last year I gave a presentation which didn’t go according to plan. Nothing really happened, I just felt it went wrong. The presentation was recorded and I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. When I eventually did it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it was. People who are watching (or listening) can’t see what’s going on in your head or the squirmy creatures in your tummy. That said the vast majority of us don’t like watching (or listening) to ourselves. For that reason I won’t be able to listen to my Webinar. However if you are interested in listening to (and looking out for my mistakes) the Elluminate sessions are available at from the RSC Eastern site.
These thoughts may not be of great use to those of you about to give your first online presentation but they may make you feel that you are not alone. Squirmy creatures happens to all of us!