Sometimes I was the only adult in the room. I used to lead the singing, tell a story or give out messages. Obviously, I couldn’t see what all the children were doing, all of the time.
It was my job to keep everyone engaged or ‘on task’.
When I started hosting large Webinars, I realised my experiences in front of all those children were quite similar. Of course, it can be even more difficult in a Webinar because you can’t see easily whether the audience are engaged, particularly if you are not using attendee webcams – which is impossible anyway with a large audience. Some Webinar software has basic activity tracking but it’s never particularly helpful, in my experience.
Just like in the assembly hall, there may be a lot of ‘talking at the back’ of your Webinar which is easy to do via text chat.
What’s the answer?
So the solution we developed in school, was to have another teacher ‘ride shotgun’ – to hang around at the back of the hall to encourage, check everyone was OK and deal with any misbehaviour.
In Webinars, this person is often called a ‘Moderator’. The role can involve (amongst many other activities):
- looking after the text chat
- answering any technical questions (as far as this is possible in a live session)
- collating questions for the presenter/panellists
- running polls
- collecting feedback
- recording the session
Having a moderator to ride shotgun can be especially important if there is one person acting as both host and presenter. It’s possible to fulfill all roles on your own and I’ve done it many times but it’s so much easier to share the tasks with others – and the Webinar is often much more successful, particularly if attendee numbers are high.
As I mentioned in Webinar Quick Tip 2, the moderator can also take over in a disaster – so it’s best to have them physically separated from host and presenter, if you can.
The larger the Webinar, the more need there is for someone to ride shotgun. Try to share the load of what can be very stressful, demanding job.
Look around you – who do you have in your organisation who would be good at riding shotgun?
It could be argued that having someone to ride shotgun doubles the amount of time and therefore money spent on the Webinar but, on the other hand, it could be argued that this practice more than halves the risks of disaster and doubles the effectiveness of the Webinar.
So don’t try to hold the reins and fend off the attackers all by yourself – get someone to ride shotgun.