Gemma Falconer at Citrix Online recently posted a very long and detailed guide to planning, organizing, and administering a webinar. For obvious reasons, it is specific to the Citrix GoToWebinar technology and details how to perform operations in their product. But the basic concepts are translatable to any well-engineered webinar technology.
As I read through the steps, I was struck by how many "moving parts" there are to keep track of. No single step is difficult, and anyone can learn how to operate the controls. But when I see each piece of the process listed separately, it seems overwhelming!
It's funny, because I do all these steps for clients every week of the year, using all the major webinar technologies. It is second nature for me and I rarely write down task lists and checklists for all these operations. I usually have five or six active webinars in the production process simultaneously, with various stakeholders needing updates, multiple presenters to coordinate on rehearsals, and registrant communications to manage. You wouldn't believe how many little workday interruptions are involved in simple emails of "Will this be recorded?", "I can no longer attend", "I lost my login instructions", and "Can my colleague log in with the same instructions?"
Years ago I wrote a blog post entitled "Why Use A Web Conference Moderator?" It still gets plenty of hits on my web access reports. Compare my list of moderator tasks and responsibilities with Gemma's higher-level look at the entire administration process. There is a lot to do if you want a public webinar to run smoothly and professionally!
And yet I still get people asking if they can run and present a webinar by themselves, without using an assistant. The answer has not changed over the years… Sure, you CAN, but do you really WANT TO?? As a presenter, I would rather concentrate on creating quality content, rehearsing it, and delivering it - without having to split my time and attention on administrative tasks. And the opposite applies just as strongly… When I administer or moderate a webinar, I need to concentrate on those tasks rather than on the performance aspects associated with good presentation technique.
If you are new to webinars, don't get overwhelmed by Gemma's list. It's like the old joke about centipedes… If they had to think about moving each leg, they would never get anywhere. You can make your life easier by allocating responsibility for different parts of the production and presentation process to different members of your team. And if you find that you would like some outside assistance to help lighten your load, you know who to call!