Getting started with Webinars - advice please

Written by Hilary Cooke on 29 July 2016

Hello lovely people

I have a request which I am hoping for lots of answers to - all sorts of your experiences please:

A client organisation is investigating the use of webinars and virtual learning to supplement a leadership programme. So the idea is that the webinars are partly for content delivery and also as a medium for learning groups to come together with a facilitator and develop further learning. They will be part of a wider programme and will play a part in creating a virtual classroom for a global audience.

So, my naive questions include aspects such as:

What is the best platform to use? (and any to avoid?)

What other technology aspects have you learned that you are able to share?

What content and methods works best for Webinars?

Any tips for creating content for them? 

How do you get facilitators trained to conduct webinars - what are the key things to know?

How do you get learners to use webinars - any tactics for marketing them and making them super-sticky?

I just know you clever people out there will be abundant with knowledge and a big thank you in advance for sharing.

Best wishes


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Submitted on 1 August, 2016 - 10:37

Hi Hilary

A quick brainstorm from me to get the ball rolling.  I'm skipping over some questions (e.g. what technology to use/avoid) where my knowledge is limited.

Firstly, how do you get learners to use webinars? Seems pretty fundamental! It strikes me that this is about addressing areas where people know they would like to learn... so good research about demand (e.g. via performance management discussions). Also, since businesses seek to upskill people in areas where they don't realise they need learning, good positioning both via the line manager (back to PM) and via the descriptions of webinars and how they are communicated to staff ("marketing"). Then there's the question of time and how people feel able to and supported in taking time for webinars... one of my client organisations has established a culture over time where people see it as quite a natural thing to take time to participate in webinars so that people speak quite freely about webinars they've taken. I notice that in this (very large) organisation people also talk quite freely about their personal career aspirations, possible next jobs etc. - this isn't always true in smaller organisations and may have an impact for your client.

What else? (Just reading your post again.) Content and methods? I think there's something important here about what subjects to cover in a webinar and the style of webinar. E.g. you could give the latest health and safety (or other policy area) update via a webinar with powerpoint presentation and someone talking it through, with a quick "did you get it?" questionnaire to test people have understood the essentials - so that's one kind of webinar and is essentially about sharing an information update. That's very different from, say, a webinar about how to navigate organisational politics where you might want something more discursive. Actually, it seems to me that good practice applies... what are the aims of the learning event? How will they be met?  What key questions need to be answered? How do you appeal to different learning styles?

Also just to share a thought about contracting and being realistic about what to cover. People will go much deeper (potentially) in an established peer-to-peer coaching group where trust is in place than on a one-off webinar on topic X. So don't open questions to the floor which are too sensitive to be answered in that forum or in an organisation whose culture would make it hard to explore.

There may also be something for your client org. about where to start. Is there a strong unmet demand for learning in a particular area? Start with this low-hanging fruit.

Does this get you started?




Submitted on 1 August, 2016 - 13:24

Hi Hilary,

Fab questions and an area I'm passionate about.

1) Platform

Always make best use of what you already have, if there is any.

If there isn't one, there are many, many to select from. Two of the best known are Cisco WebEx Training Centre and Adobe Connect. Both are the more expensive end of the range but give probably the best features, most robust and well documented.

This is a deep issue, but my summary on recommendation (between the two) is always is you are using the tool for more process training and software where you want to share screens and applications, and there's likely to be one trainer most of the time - WebEx Training Centre is your ideal.

If you want experiences to be more bespoke and you are planning on having any kind of host/producer/co-facilitator role then Adobe Connect has some more funky features and is much, much better for any kind of support or co-delivery.

There are also loads and loads of other software out there. I've just got a very cheap account with Webinar Ninja and it looks ok. I've just found out about Mega Meetings from a client, which also looks like it has cool features. There are many, many others, and Googling and asking for first hand experiences is good :D

As with all things, the way to select the right platform is to know what you want to do with the tool (i.e. what kind of sessions) and also who will be using it.

2) Other technology

Again, big topic. Important things include:

- Wired USB headset (more reliable than bluetooth etc)
- Wired internet connection (wifi is too unstable)
- As much as possible, depending on how often a person is delivering - a big screen or second screen
- As much as possible have a second computer when delivering. It's a backup, a view of what the attendees can see and gives much, much confidence

3) Content & methods

I always say that this is rooted in excellent analysis and design, as with any other learning solution. This could be based in 70:20:10 principles. Other things that are useful is Performance Consulting and Action Mapping. All of these have a focus on what is the underlying need adn the impact on the business, as well as focusing strongly on the learner, what they really need to actually do in work and how to get the most out of a learning solution.

With regards webinars, you have to be comfortable that you are using the right terminology. Webinars are usually shorter sessions with more people. They can be interactive and engaging if designed and delivered well, but run the risk of being an information broadcast session that people multi-task through.

The other end of the scale, with far fewer people and sometimes longer sessions, is more of a virtual classroom event, where the focus can be more on collaboration.

This is something I wrote that might be interesting to help with that:

Either way, you need to focus on good design for discussing and practising, where possible, the skills and behaviour changes.

4) Tips for creating content

Start with what you need people to DO.
Focus on what activities in any online session can do to support that.
Have the need to know information resources for later (e.g. a document on the how to process).

Focus on what you might have done face to face, as there is usually an equivalent online. Would you use a flip chart? Great, you'll use a whiteboard if it's in your software. Would you normally have small group discussion, great, you might use breakout rooms if you have them and so on.

This is an article I wrote about designing for live online:

5) Facilitators

If you have good L&D facilitators, they will probably be good online facilitators, as there is still a lot of classroom management, good learning design and delivery etc.

This is a TJ article I wrote about it:

This is something I wrote which is a bit more research based and focused on resistance to change:

Facilitators need to know the software they are using. They don't have to be technical IT experts, but they do need to know things about setting up their audio, connecting, using the online software and so on, and being experienced and comfortable with it, in order to make the most of it.

Facilitators also need to concentrate on how delivery and facilitation is different online. Whilst they will use many of their current skills, the way they ask questions is different. For example, they have to direct people to using the tools. Smaller differences, such as asking people directly online is different from what you might do face to face, as they might feel like pouncing.

Other websites with useful resources:

My site: free and openly available video and audio talking about live online

My site: free and openly availably recorded webinars to help you and your colleagies with online skills development

Karen Hyder:

Cindy Huggett:

Kassy La Borie and Tom Stone's book on interaction for online.

6) Learners using webinars

As you would for any other programme - making sure it's aligned to the business impact needed and what individuals need to do at work in the first place.

Great promotion internally. Is "webinar" the right word for what you are doing? Sometimes that can have negative connotations if people have listened to lots of boring lectures.

Make them interactive, energetic, engaging and focused right from the start. Get feedback to promote the positive and work on the negative.

Give your facilitators enough time to learn the technology. Give your designers (who may be the same people) enough time to design properly for online. Give them pilots to get it better and then go live with your audience.


All the best,


Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 2 August, 2016 - 10:03

Dear Dorothy and Jo,

You absolute darlings and a big thank you to you both.

Dorothy for your high-level view and pertinent questions - as always.

Jo - for how generous you have been with your time and enthusiastic sharing of so much valuable information, knowledge, experience and resource.

I will get my sleeves rolled up later and get on to these links and information. You have given me a great start.

I really can't thank you enough - Vive la Forum! 

Best wishes



Submitted on 3 August, 2016 - 10:34




I use WebEx Training Centre.  You have interactive tools to keep delegates engaged like: emoticons, chat, polling, whiteboard, breakout rooms.

I'd go with doubling the content time if you delivered in a classroom to delivering through WebEx because the facilitation takes longer.

If you are going to just share a presentation and take q and a then WebEx solo is good but it takes discipline from the delegates to pay attention.


Submitted on 3 August, 2016 - 21:14

NB the September meeting of the Sales Performance Association on September 27th (in London) is entitled: "Presenting online? How to ensure your audience stays the course".  Details can be seen at

Nothing in it for me passing this information on - I'm simply a paying member...

Hilary Cooke

Submitted on 4 August, 2016 - 14:00

Thanks Tim and Donnaore - I appreciate the information. 

I need to keep reminding myself that it's still learning - just delivered with aid of technology!

Thank you

Best wishes



Submitted on 5 August, 2016 - 09:12

I've been working and watching the forum rather than contributing and I wanted to echo Hilary's posting.  Great sharing and fab contributions on this thread and others.  It looks like the pulse of the forum is beating a little stronger these days.  Lovely to see it.

Appreciate the tips on WebEx training too as I have run them and clients like running them although often seeing them as PowerPoint over the web.  They can obviously be so much more.