I LOVE a good free webinar. Since becoming a small business owner, I have found a renewed passion for learning, and with the pace of development of business technologies, there’s always something new that catches my eye and makes me think “Gosh, I want to learn how to do that.” And there are some great webinar presenters out there, delivering awesome free content, so never a week goes by that I don’t sit in on a webinar.
But how do I ensure webinars actually benefit me and/or my business?
By applying these 5 principles I can translate my webinar take-aways into actions and implement changes to my processes that have lasting benefits.
1 I choose wisely
Free webinars are unlikely to provide step by step instruction on how to execute a new skill – the detail (the procedure) is left for you to work out later. Webinars can motivate and leave you rearing to go, but the hype is easily wasted if you don’t plan to action the presenter’s recommendations before you’re distracted by the next trending thing.
A good value webinar will at least provide a checklist or framework for you to guide your actions after the webinar. By researching the presenter/s and viewing snippets of prior webinar recordings, I can pretty much determine whether their next webinar is going to give me a tool or strategy that I can immediately implement into my practice.
2 I set myself up to capture the detail
I try to be present for the live webinar – It is much more engaging when I can chat with the speaker/s, ask questions and have them answered.
I connect with the presenter/s on LinkedIn prior to the webinar – Amazing things can happen when you connect with speakers in advance of a presentation (I have another story to write on that!). Least of all, you will feel more connected to the speaker which will help you connect with their content.
I use 2 monitors – I set the webinar to display on one screen, and on the second screen I open a Word document and head it up with the webinar date, topic, date and presenter/s, ready to capture important take-aways throughout the webinar. If you have only 1 monitor, you can achieve a similar result by splitting the panes top/bottom.
I use headphones to improve the audio experience and minimise the impact of other distractions.
3 I engage
I listen and watch – it’s counter-productive to try to multi-task. Whilst our brains can perform thousands of functions simultaneously, you can only process one conscious thought at a time, so if you’re reading an email, you can’t possibly be processing what the presenter is saying.
I participate – I use the interactive features like the chat box to interact with the presenters and the other participants. I ask questions, and comment when I have something of value to put forward. Engaging with the presenters and other participants helps things stick.
I take notes – I capture any points that resonate with me. I particularly note any actions I feel compelled to take post webinar, as they can quickly leave my conscious mind when the speaking stops.
I Google stuff – When I hear a recommended name or company, I Google it and paste the URLs into my summary doc. If I’m ‘getting’ this presenter, chances are their mentors will resonate with me also, so I take note of their details to look up later.
I bail if it’s not what I was expecting – I sometimes get it wrong. There’s nothing to be gained by sitting through a presentation that is not doing for me what I had anticipated. I cut my losses and get back to productive work.
4 I follow up
Without the follow up, your inspiring and motivating webinar experience is unlikely to translate into any real change or add value to your business.
I write an action list – Directly after the webinar, I lodge the actions I feel most motivated to take. They go directly into my task manager, and I attach my notes so they are easily accessible when I get to doing them.
I schedule time to execute the actions – While I’m still highly motivated from the webinar, I schedule a few hours within the next 1-3 days. Any further out than that and I know my resolve will wane and the likelihood of completing them will be low. In fact, as a regular webinar junkie, I block out the 2 hours directly after every webinar for “taking action”. Convert those goals without delay.
5 I update my processes
To truly embed my actions into the core of my business, I revise and update any processes I’ve altered, capturing the new way of doing things in my business policies and procedures so they become the new way of operating. Oh, and don’t forget to tell your team about the changes!
If you’re serious about turning webinar watching into an effective learning and continual improvement experience, and not a time-waster that leaves you feeling guilty that you’re not doing more, give each webinar due attention. If time is your issue, engaging the above strategies for one webinar each week is better than sitting mindlessly through several. Be selective, be pro-active, and be a savvy learner!
About the author
Anne Pike is an Educator and Micro Business Systemizer, helping allied health practitioners, healthcare educators, and wellness consultants capture the operational processes of their business and turn them into instructional guides for outsourcing of tedious business functions, staff on-boarding programs, and marketing materials.
Anne’s business My Secret EA was established in October 2015. Anne has a 2-year goal to become an inspiring leader in the field of virtual assistant start-ups and micro business entrepreneurship in Australia.