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Prepare, keep calm, carry on when webinar glitches strike
From earthquakes to fire drills to dropped Internet connections, webcast presenters have faced a litany of technology challenges. Cynthia Clay, author of
Great Webinars: Create Interactive Learning That Is Captivating, Informative, and Fun (Pfeiffer, 2012), shared best practices for overcoming such obstacles during her September webinar “Handling Technology Trauma in the Virtual Classroom.”
Murphy’s Law—“What can go wrong will go wrong”—inevitably holds true during webcasts, said Clay, president and CEO of NetSpeed Learning Solutions. Webcast attendees related some of their own presentation horror stories, such as the person who muted herself, instead of participants.
Another recalled a guest speaker who lost connection when an earthquake hit; one woman recounted the time she was bumped from the session she was hosting and couldn’t dial back in. Other disruptions cited were caused by a fire drill, a tornado and a software platform that crashed five minutes into a presentation.
Clay, who has encountered her share of computer glitches during presentations—including having her computer crash 12 times in 50 minutes—noted that human error, software failure and the lack of a contingency plan are among the primary causes of webcast fumbles.
Experience has taught her that there is no perfect software platform. Instead, it’s important to focus on what you can control and influence.
“The bottom line: You have to be calm and not let technology throw you off track,” Clay said. She advised participants to:
Clay also offered some practical ideas that audience members could tuck into a figurative black belt.
“We’re going to become martial artists in the field of webinar delivery and production,” so that with a “Hi-yah!” and a deft kick, she said, “we can handle anything that is thrown at us.”
Best Practices for Presenters
Best Practices for Event Hosts/Producers
In addition, attendees should be prompted to log in early, test their equipment and software in advance, and follow any instructions sent to them.
“I may not be able to influence everything,” Clay stressed, “but I can have contingency plans—that means I have to prepare consciously to deal with [anything that is] happening.”
Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor for HR News.
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