Meeting online has become the new normal and for many people this means work meetings via Zoom, or whatever platform you are using. It can also mean getting used to running webinar-type presentations as part of these meetings. For those in education and training it means a webinar instead of a face-to-face training session. And have you noticed the proliferation in podcasts? As people are working from home and have more time to listen to these, their numbers and popularity have really soared. There’s lots of ‘how to’ podcast guides and podcast shows/interviews. I tend to listen to a few of these per week, which is something I never used to do.
So, I want to talk about my own experience of stretching myself outside of my comfort zone and getting used to this new way of working. I also want to talk about some tips about planning webinars/podcasts. I hope you find this useful.
My experience of replacing a face-to-face workshop with a podcast
Towards the end of March, I had to adapt one of my own face-to-face workshops (with the NHS) to replace it with a podcast.
The workshop was one I run on career planning for junior doctors. They have to choose their specialty early on in their career, so it is usually an hour and a half’s interactive workshop. It did not make sense to replace this with a voice over slide show. I can’t imagine any of the busy junior doctors sitting at a computer in their spare time listening to such a show! Therefore, I separated what I usually do and created a text document with a podcast that sat aside from this. The podcast was only approx. 30 mins in length and could be listened to independently of the reading material that I provided. Deciding what to keep in the podcast was challenging, but my aim was to make it as short as possible, as it was a monologue.
Tips for creating such a podcast:
- My podcast was a monologue and I tried to run through what I wanted to say in one go and record that. This gave me an idea of how long the recording would need to be. This in the end was a rehearsal.
- It was easier to record a beginning and an ending separately, then to piece it together afterwards.
- I stood up for the recording, as I felt that way my voice resonated better.
- Using a rough script helped, but I followed that quite loosely, so that my voice sounded more natural and conversational.
Co-incidentally, around this time, I’d just bought a copy of ‘Find your Voice’ by Caroline Goyder, published in early 2020. Much of the practice of speaking, whether this is online or in front of an actual audience, is about breathing and posture/calming your nerves. This is helpful for speaking at big events and can also be applicable for running online events. Where this resonated with me is that I was unused to the technology and that added stress to everything! Prior to the recording of the podcast, I did quite a few warm-up exercises from this book. I can thoroughly recommend it.
My experience of running some careers webinars
I also ran some free webinars, one on career planning, in early May, and another on careers resilience, later on in May. I decided to use ‘Zoom’ for the first webinar and then for the second one I used ‘Webex’. Both platforms enable you to share your screen, so that you can talk through a PowerPoint slide. Both enabled interaction via the chat box.
Here are a few tips that I learned from running these webinars:
- It was good practice for me to run these webinars as free ones, as I felt less pressure to be fully adept with the technology.
- Both platforms were solid, though if you want to run a webinar longer than 40 minutes, you need to have a professional account with Zoom. This costs £11.99 a month. With Webex, for the moment, you don’t have to pay for an account which gives you the meetings function, though I believe that may change in the future. If you want to have the webinar function, there is a cost (this function is more sophisticated). I found the meeting function works well enough, though it doesn’t have the ‘breakout’ room function.
- I rehearsed the webinar on the day beforehand, in each case. This allowed me to judge the timing, as I wanted the webinars to be only max 35 mins in length.
- I found it difficult to run the webinar and pay attention to the chat box. For the first webinar, I anticipated this and I didn’t use it. I instead gave the participants a warning about the interactive exercises I was going to give them. I told them to have pen and paper handy to do these. As this was for the career planning webinar, some of the exercises were quite personal. So this worked, rather than having them put their results in the chat box.
- In the second webinar on careers resilience (using Webex), I gave delegates permission to use the annotation button. This gave a different kind of interactivity, as the participants were able to draw on the slides, highlighting areas within them.
A final word
In this digital age, finding our voice is more important than ever. Automation/AI will mean that the human side of connecting with others will be the key skills that will set us aside from the robots. Coronavirus has shown how many of us can feel isolated. Using our voice confidently will enable us to influence and persuade, as well as to reach out and help others.
Let me know if you have any questions at all about the advice above. You can use the ‘contact‘ page to get in touch.