Is 2020 the Year of Webinars?

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on May 12th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

Have you attended a Webinar recently? Had you attended one before 2020? Maybe yes or maybe no, 2020 seems to be the year of webinars proliferation in Kenya. A webinar is a portmanteau of the words web and seminar simply describing a seminar held on the web. As many are aware, webinars are transmitted online via a multimedia interactive platform. Through a variety of platforms meetings, presentations, lectures, keynotes speeches, training, workshops and seminars are held online. This enables participants in different geographical locations to attend in real-time. Webinar platforms combine audio, video, chat, question & answer sections, discussion forums, screen shares, polls, break out rooms, recording and other interactive avenues. The platforms have been in existence over the last two decades; however, they were not as widely used as they are today.

When I first heard of webinars, I considered them a tool used for sharing marketing information. With time, I realized that a webinar in someone’s area of interest could be a great source of insights. In light of COVID-19 pandemic, many webinars are being conducted left, right and center to share information and offer insights on the present and the possible future. Many organizations have developed webinars and webinar series to keep their audience engaged. Today, webinar apps have become a standard feature on our phones, tablets and computers. In the last two months, I have had to install six new platforms depending on webinar requirement. For those in the world of business, we are spoilt for choice in terms of the ongoing webinars on the impact that COVID-19 is having on the economy.

In my career life, I have been intimately involved in organizing and facilitating physical meetings, lectures, training, workshops and seminars. The need for social distance has made this impossible. As such, organizing, facilitating and participating in webinars has become the new normal. It has been both exciting and sometimes tedious; I have attended both awesome and dull webinars. How has your webinar experience been? As we continue to engage via webinars as an avenue to share insights, I feel we can do much more virtually than we ever imagined. The world has gone virtual; we need to embrace webinars in place of training, seminars, workshops and conferences.

As people continue to search for new knowledge and skills, many will be turning to webinars as a learning platform as well as for conferences. I believe we need to put in some additional effort when preparing webinars; they need to be an experience. We must be clear about the webinar’s objective and start with the audience in mind. Who is our audience? Why should they attend? How will they benefit? How will the webinar be structured? What content will we share? How will we make it more interactive to keep the audience engaged? What day and time is best for a webinar? What is the best platform for the webinar? How long should it be? We need to adopt webinars and make them part of our virtual engagements. Those planning webinars need to pay a little more attention to the value they are creating. Those attending webinars need rethink the value they are getting. If one is only interested in getting a copy of the slides shared, then, there is a problem. We need more exciting webinars!

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy

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