Webinars—Best Practices for Training

Webinars can be a very cost-effective way to train staff in one or many locations. In today’s economy, they can ensure that critical training needs are met within budget constraints. Webinars also make it possible for employers to develop and deliver content over and over again without the need for a live presenter to meet with various groups of employees. For certain types of content, webinars can be both user-friendly and cost-effective training delivery options.

Benefits and Downfalls

Webinars are training events that are presented to participants in remote locations who view the presentation on their computers while listening to the presenter either via phone or computer speaker. Webinars can incorporate static PowerPoint® slides, in addition to video clips and even live video of presenters. In addition, many webinars incorporate polling and online Q&A to aid in interaction.

The greatest downfall of the webinar format, of course, is the lack of live, face-to-face interaction, which is critical for certain types of training events—e.g. teambuilding or programs that require role-playing or other forms of live interaction.

The greatest benefits are costs savings (in terms of travel and the need for employees to leave the office), the ability to simultaneously train employees in multiple locations and the ability to provide training in an on-demand format (e.g., employees may have the opportunity to access prerecorded programs at times most convenient for them.

A Range of Production Options

Webinars have become increasingly popular over the past several years. This popularity has resulted in a broad choice of providers offering webinar services ranging from simply providing the technology, to producing the webinar, to managing the entire event, including registration, delivery, and follow-up in certain cases.

While no-cost options exist today for HR professionals and trainers to create their own webinars, in some cases, it may make more sense to outsource the process.

When choosing a vendor, trainers should:

  • Consider their specific technology needs, and look for a vendor that can meet those needs. Ask questions, and insist that the vendor “speak your language” rather than “IT-speak.”
  • Compare pricing carefully across vendors. It can be difficult to find “apples to apples” comparisons, so it pays to ask questions and research carefully to get a sense of what the program will cost. If you can’t get a clear idea, move to another vendor.
  • Ask to sit in on one or more live sessions to get a good feel for the production value—sound and visual quality—and overall experience.
  • Check references—not just those given by the company but other word-of-mouth referrals as well.

Finally, as with any other form of training, it’s important to evaluate effectiveness through assessments that might include employee feedback about the training experience, supervisor/management feedback about how well the information was transferred back to the work setting, and organizational assessment of cost/benefit of this type of training compared to other options.