Webinars: Learning from Harvard and Kanye West

How might we improve our webinars? Dyfrig Williams watched the Harvard Business Review’s webinar on influence at work to see what he could learn.

When we held our first webinar, I’m not quite sure we knew what we’d begun. What started out as a follow up session to our IT seminar has helped us to reach communities of interest that would have been difficult to access with traditional events.

On 12 May, we’ll be running a webinar with IdeasUK on Staff Ideas: Engagement that supports improvement. Despite being UK based, their membership spans across the world, so a webinar is an ideal fit for their needs.

The pre-election embargo has given us time for some self-reflection about our webinars, so we’ve looked at what works well and what doesn’t.

I’ve already blogged on what I’ve learnt from running a webinar, but in the spirit of continuous improvement, I watched Harvard Business Review’s webinar on ‘Influence at Work: What Gets In Your Way and What to Do About It’ to see what I could learn about the topic and what I could take from their approach.

What I learnt about influence at work

Paul Hessey’s Unconscious Bias session at our internal equality event gave me a good starting point in terms of how first impressions can affect how we perceive someone. In this webinar Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson explained why misperceptions are so common. It was interesting to see how little information is available to both speaker and listener in order to form a common opinion about someone. As the table below shows, it’s only the behavior of the speaker and what they say that both have access to.

Available Information / Gwybodaeth sydd ar gaelHaving been a member of the Good Practice team for the best part of two years now, the need to find out ‘what good looks like’ is fairly embedded in me. So what can we do to give a better first impression? Understandably, trust is a key part of this. Here’s how we can better convey warmth and confidence:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Smiling when smiled at
  • Nodding to convey listening
  • Actually listening
  • Being affirming when called for

If you’d like to find out more about this and a lot more besides, you can view an on-demand recording of the webcast or read the executive summary of the webinar.

What I learnt about webinars

When it comes to presentations at events, we work to the theory that less is more. There’s nothing worse than presenters reading straight from their Powerpoints for an hour, especially when there’s so much text or data that it’s impossible to read. In no way did Dr. Halvorson overload us with data, but she did have a fair few slides, which kept the webinar visually interesting despite there being no webcam.

Dr. Halvorson also used images and diagrams to illustrate points and clarify meaning. It was particularly interesting to see the pop culture references, with a slide on the Kanye West and Taylor Swift debacle at the MTV Awards to show how people can come across differently to how they intend to.

Kanye West / Taylor SwiftIn terms of our webinar on staff ideas, whilst I can’t promise you an abundance of pop references, I can promise that we’ll be upping our visual game. We have a great line up of panellists from organisations as varied as the Ministry of Defence and the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community, so if you fancy learning a bit more about using ideas schemes to involve staff in organisational development, it’s well worth tuning in.

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