Doesn’t it seem like you are constantly being invited to attend webinars on every topic under the sun? They range from product announcements to how to do something, why you should do something, and more. Is it to the point where you just skim past those invitations or just delete them out of hand?
Even if you do find something interesting and sign up for it, how many do you actually “attend?” And if you DO attend, if you’re anything like me, do you find yourself listening with just one ear while you multitask – checking emails, reading articles, texting, or worse — looking at social media?
Let’s face it. We are all super busy. Not having enough time is probably the most common reason people don’t attend more webinars. Because we do webinars from the privacy of our own offices or desks, there is no real oversight or face-to-face interaction. So it’s easy to do other things and only partially pay attention.
But that is a mistake.
Think about the ever-changing HVAC equipment technology, as well as the tech behind the tools and instruments used to install and maintain them. In addition, management techniques change and industry news/regulations always pull the rug out from under your feet, right?
Sure it’s great to attend live events put on by trade associations, manufacturers, and even trade publications like this one, but no one can afford the time or money to go to all of them. And that is where the webinar becomes your friend.
Eight Ways to Get More From Webinars
Choose the webinar carefully – Time is limited and not all webinars are created equal. When choosing which ones to attend, think about the value each provides for projects you’re involved with, problems you experience, and customer issues. Consider your other commitments during the time in question. Also, consider which HVAC professional associations and other groups offer the most compelling content. It certainly doesn’t hurt to talk with peers and colleagues about which webinars have been most valuable to them.
- Watch the webinar with a group. Seriously. This not only builds camaraderie, but it also makes it more likely employees will attend and pay attention. By the way, it also shows the importance company management puts on professional development.
Take Notes – OK, so I have a journalist background and notetaking is in my blood. But notetaking is a GREAT way to help participants pay attention and capture details they want and should remember. It’s also a way to share new information with those who couldn’t attend.
- Participate – Though this is a webinar, there usually ARE ways to communicate through the webinar software to the speakers/presenters. Attendees should definitely take advantage of this. They should certainly ask questions of the presenters, but it is also an opportunity to network with other attendees.
Networking is ALWAYS a good idea. In addition, if you are viewing the webinar as a group, discussions can continue after the event ends, which enhances the training and information retention.
There are a number of other advantages to attending webinars. Here is a brief list of things to think about:
- No travel required –Attendance can occur from anywhere – your desk, the office, in a truck, at home, anywhere. There are no costs for planes, hotels, meals. The amount of time away from work is MUCH less than it would be if you had to travel to the meeting.
- Webinars get archived – OK, this depends on the organizations that put them on, but most organizations don’t want to lose the content created for a webinar. Here at NCI we archive our webinars on the website so members can go back and view them at any time. Unlike live conferences, if you miss something in your notes while attending a webinar that’s being archived, you can just review it again later.
- Focused Learning Opportunities. Because webinar topics tend to focus on specific issues and topics, you receive in-depth discussions on the topics that specifically interest you and your team.
- No exams. Most live webinars steer clear of exams or testing. They might do pop quizzes or polls, but that is part of conversation and not necessarily for CEUs.
Don’t Let Webinar Software/Hardware Requirements Set You Back
So we talked about all the positive aspects of webinars, but there are a few things you should remember to do to make sure your webinar experience goes off smoothly. The short list has the following three items:
- Check your computer system requirements – All webinars are run using either web-based or computer-based software. So make sure your computers are compatible with whatever software the webinar is being hosted on.
- Download software – in those cases where you need to download software, make sure to do so well in advance of the event. This includes software, browser plug-ins, etc.
- Listening Devices – I’m talking about the choice between dialing into the webinar on your phone versus streaming the audio over your PC. Your best bet is to find out which option the webinar intends to use and plan accordingly.
Don’t let these requirements set you back. Webinars are so very easy. Most of them do housekeeping upfront that walks you through all three of the aforementioned steps.
It is important to block out time in your schedule to think and reflect. Maybe it’s the content of the webinar that turns on a light bulb and maybe it takes a few minutes to sit and let other thoughts run through your mind, but chances are you’ll come away from the webinar refreshed and ready to return to work with renewed enthusiasm.
Webinars present a very affordable and highly effective way of delivering training to your employees. Additionally, depending on the subject, webinars can also present opportunities to address key business topics and issues that can spark new ideas, focused discussion, and drive action.
Mike Weil is the vice president of communications and publications for the National Comfort Institute. He has more than 37 years experience in the HVAC Industry serving contractors in editorial roles with several industry-specific trade magazines, online discussion forums, and websites. If you want to learn more about NCI, visit www.nationalcomfortinstitute.com