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Contributed by
Charity Digital

Overview

Charity Digital delivers education and training through live-hosted webinars.

When the pandemic disrupted traditional face-to-face methods of fundraising, service delivery, and operations, Charity Digital were faced with increased demand for their services. However, their traditional method of webinar creation was no longer possible.

The great advantage of webinars as a learning tool is that they can be effectively run from anywhere. This recipe illustrates how Charity Digital creates and delivers webinars with a fully remote team.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since March 2020.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Charity Digital’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a member of staff, I need to create and deliver webinars as part of a remote team
  • As a service user, I need to access training

Software and tools used

Zoom

Zoom is a popular cloud-based videoconferencing service, best known for its video call capabilities. It's also possible to host, broadcast, and record webinars on Zoom, thanks to a specific webinar package add-on.

Cost

Zoom offers a range of subscriptions.

The free ‘Basic’ plan allows unlimited one-to-one meetings but has a 40-minute time limit on group sessions and does not include webinar functionality.

There are also various options for paid plans:

Pro (£11.99/month/host) Business (£15.99/month/host)
Enterprise (£15.99/month/host).

These plans contain increased options for participation and no time restrictions.

Considerations

Useful features for webinars include the ability to set attendees as 'view only', live screen sharing, and broadcasting, along with HD video and audio, and the ability to stream Zoom events live across social channels including Facebook and YouTube.

The number of webinar attendees depends on your subscription tier.

Webinars can be viewed on most PCs, laptops, and smartphones – either as an app or in-browser without a download – and attendees can dial into audio by telephone. (If dialling-in via phone, check what country the webinar is being hosted from. International charges will apply.)

Speakers can easily record from separate locations.

Zoom’s popular use as a remote working tool and in remote learning for schools and universities means it's already familiar and accessible to many.

It’s webinar and presenting tools should be easy to set up and run for those already used to the platform. Zoom's webinar-specific features include a Q&A functionality and the ability for viewers to participate through a live text chat function with other viewers and the presenter, as well as the ability to submit answers to live polls, bringing an element of interactivity and keeping things engaging. In a webinar, attendees won't have their camera on as default, and can't speak on audio. However, by promoting them from 'attendee' to 'panellist' you can allow people to display their video or screens, who you can then mute or unmute.

Webinar packages include analytics and reporting capabilities that let you access reports on registrants, attendees, engagement and Q&A follow up, so you can track who is coming to your webinars and the effectiveness of the webinar’s delivery.

While attendees can join Zoom webinars from any device, the mobile version lacks some of the functionality of joining on a desktop PC or laptop. Sharing screens and launching polls, for example, is more difficult on a mobile device. Using the text chat function can also be trickier on mobile.

Webinars that are recorded as videos include the presenter but not other elements, such as the chat or discussion.

Recipe steps

1. Plan calendar and programme of webinars

Figure out your capacity and how much content you'll be able to offer on a specific topic or theme.

Start small and build up over time as your audience grows. It's a good idea to under-promise and over-deliver.

Align your webinars with the rest of your marketing calendar's themes, campaigns, and events wherever possible.

2. Find the right topics

What subjects and topics would be the best fit for your audience? Do what you can to learn more about your audience and what interests them. You can do this through social media, analysing engagement with your own content, or conducting a survey.

3. Decide on a platform

What platform would suit your specific audience?

Think about aspects such as the number of participants, interactivity, accessibility, the webinar experience on the devices your audience is likely to use, their digital skill level, and if you want to track attendee data.

4. Identify speakers and define roles

Assign roles and responsibilities.

Make sure someone knows how to cover your role on the day, should you be absent for any reason, and make sure there's always someone who knows how the equipment works.

5. Start promotion

Launch promotion four weeks prior to the webinar and increasing frequency as the webinar gets closer.

Advertise on your own website, on social media, and via automated emails.

6. Build a landing page

Build a registration webpage that will be used for your sign-up form.

Optimise your landing page to drive registrations.

7. Check in with speakers

Check-in with speakers to make sure they have everything they need, review their materials and ensure they are familiar with the format. This is especially important when working remotely as they won't be with us to flag concerns.

Practise the webinar. Make sure speakers know how the tech works and can get online.

8. Ensure things run smoothly on the day

Always log on earlier than attendees and do a practice run. Check slides, audio and speakers, Wi-Fi and other communications channels, and all the tech you are using.

During the webinar, set up a direct chat on another platform such as WhatsApp, Slack, or Microsoft Teams. This is especially important between the producer and host working remotely so that any problems can be fixed.

9. Gather feedback and make changes

Learn more about what has worked and what hasn't, and adjust your content accordingly (for both audience and speakers).

Sometimes speakers can get a bit of an adrenaline crash when working remotely and feel as though they weren't happy with their delivery or the audience's engagement. Make sure to check in with them and debrief. Chat through any negative comments and offer support.

Guidance

If you don’t have the ability to automate feedback straight away from attendees, make sure you send the email the same day as the webinar while it's fresh in their minds.

Make sure you have more than one voice for a longer webinar. Use a host and at least one other speaker. Make sure your webinars are accessible. Charity Digital use REV for closed captioning. When creating slides, use contrasting colours that can easily be seen by people with visual impairments or colour blindness.

Be sure to use the best quality headset and never use a smartphone to record.

Risks

Minimise noise in the room and turn off air conditioning, heaters, and other devices. Use a smaller room as they have less echo. Test your sound quality 30 minutes before going live and be mindful of feedback caused by devices being too close to each other. Be aware that the speaker can't hear themselves and don’t be afraid to tell them if they need to speak up.

Assign speaker and host as separate roles. This way the host can concentrate on the organisation, and the speaker can concentrate on delivering their content and expertise in the most engaging way possible without distraction.

If you have speakers in different time zones, this should be taken into account. Someone speaking at 5am from their country won't be bringing their full energy!

Lastly, it might sound obvious, but make sure you've hit record!

Thanks

Many thanks to Charity Digital for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Charity Digital and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on April 16th, 2021. Last updated August 6th, 2021