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. A Gartner Research report from July 2009 indicates that interest is at an all-time high.
And for good reason. The number of providers offering webinar services has increased dramatically over the past several years, driving down costs and increasing options for making these events more user-friendly and effective.
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 pre-recorded programs at times most convenient for them.
Webinars have become increasingly popular over the past several years, and particularly during the recent economic decline. This popularity has resulted in a broad choice of providers offering webinar services ranging from simply providing the technology to produce the webinar to managing the entire event including registration, delivery and follow-up.
When choosing a vendor, HR professionals 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 more 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