Sometimes you can try too hard

Explores the idea that webinars don’t have to be highly interactive to be effective.

Last week I mused on the difference between a webinar and a virtual classroom session (see So what exactly is a webinar?). It became clear that a webinar was essentially a presentation by an expert on a specialist topic, much like the sessions you’ll experience at any conference. Although a webinar is, more often than not, a learning event, it is quite different in character – and in the expectations of participants – to a workshop or typical small group classroom session.
I’m reminded of a friend who attended an Open University summer school a few years back. Although this person was a trainer by background, and used to facilitating highly-interactive workshops, they were frustrated with the ‘time wasted’ on collaborative activities during lectures by eminent academics. What this person wanted was to sit and listen, to reflect, and perhaps take a few notes. Interaction could come later, in informal discussion with other participants.
For this reason, I was particularly interested in what Ken Molay had to say in Must your webinar be interactive? on The Webinar Blog:
“You have to disassociate yourself from your own predefined concept of what indicates success or failure of your presentation and associate yourself instead with the way your audience wants to take in the information. So instead of vainly trying more and more interaction techniques on unwilling subjects, eliminate the remainder of your polls. Stop urging the audience to answer questions via the chat window. Instead, concentrate on supplying detailed and valuable information in more of a straightforward discourse. The important thing is not to sound disappointed or to make an indication that this isn’t your preferred method of presentation. If they want to hear a lecture, then by golly you’re going to give them a great lecture!”
Sometimes you really can try too hard.