Now that the initial shock of working from home, and learning to work with Microsoft365, has been absorbed, I notice that my colleagues are quickly trying to get their work done “with the new tools”.
My organization is also a research and education institute for nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists and other therapists, so we have a lot of research, knowledge sharing and training going on in our core business.
Suddenly I am being called frequently by colleagues who are used to organize face-to-face events, but want to set up a webinar now.
For the larger and more formal events we advise Live Events (which I am currently trying to get proficient in), but for smaller and less formal events a regular Teams Meeting can be used as well.
My own experience
My colleague and I are still giving webinars on the various aspects of Teams almost every week, using a Teams Meeting.
These take an hour, have up to 10 people, can also be taken in the evenings, and we make sure everyone can ask their questions. They fill up rather quickly!
We generally do a personal introduction round for all, then present a few explanatory slides, give a demo, recap what we have shown, and ask for final questions.
We have found that people like to sign up, because not only does it give them an opportunity to learn new things, brush up their skills, or allows them to ask their questions, but also because they like to connect with their colleagues, who they have not seen for more than two months by now. So it is fulfilling a social need, too!
For those situations a regular Teams Meeting does the work, so here’s how to organize that.
1. Create a Form to collect submissions
We have a professional tool available for the larger and more complicated events, but for smaller and impromptu webinars you can use a Form.
Just create one and share it with a colleague (as a back-up).
If you have internal attendees only, collect names and emails automatically.
If you have externals joining too, please make sure you use the setting “Anyone with the link can respond” and ask for (at least) their email address.
2. Communicate your event in the regular way
If you are sending emails, publishing on internet or intranet, you can add the link to the Form (or to the formal system) to collect responses.
If you are using printed materials (wall posters, flyers) you can add the QR code to the Form.
The Form will give you a spreadsheet with email addresses.
3. Schedule the Teams meeting
You can do this from Outlook or from Teams.
If you want to send the standard invitation to everyone, you’d better use Outlook as I have found this works better with contact persons, email distribution lists or Excel files with email addresses. Also, if you want to hide people’s email addresses, use Outlook.
You can add an attachment with meeting instructions – I liked this one for external users. How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guest
If you want to use another way of communication (e.g. an email with instructions and some more information), you can best use Teams, invite your presenters only and then add the link to the meeting to the rest of the information.
This post will tell you more on the pros and cons of Teams or Outlook when scheduling.
If your webinar involves breakout sessions, where attendees can discuss or work on an assignment together, you may want to check out this post for the creation of breakout rooms.
4. Set correct controls to your Teams meeting
For a presentation for a large audience including external attendees I would suggest to add a lobby for externals, and make sure everyone except the presenter(s) enters the meeting as an attendee.
Arrange the lobby and presenter settings as explained in my earlier post.
5. Send links and instructions
If you have used Outlook, you will have done this already, but in case you want to send a different email than the standard invitation, you can add the link as grabbed under 3 and add instructions. For internals it may not be necessary (although it may not hurt) and for externals you can use something like these: a link or as a PDF: How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guest
6. Prepare and rehearse
- In most cases presenters will share a PowerPoint presentation, and it is a good idea to make a PDF version as a handout. We usually share these via the chat during the webinar. Be aware that external attendees can not access the chat when they have logged off, so tell them when you are sharing it.
- If presenters are giving a web demo, it helps to have a script, so they know what they are going to show. They should keep the script visible.
Making screenshots of the screens they plan to show (in case the internet or wifi drops, or the website is suddenly unavailable) is always a good idea.
- And if they want to demo something on your phone, here’s how to do that.
7. Do a technical test run
It is always a good idea to practice a presentation a few times, but if the presenter is new to Teams it is essential that (s)he also does a “technical” test run to find out how to
- share a screen or a presentation and switch between them
- blur or change backgrounds
- manage attendees
- use the chat and the “raise hand” option
- include system sounds like the sound from video’s, etc.
If you have externals joining, invite one or two along for the test to see if it all works for them.
You may want to think about a custom Help background, as described by Phil Whitehead in this video, to help attendees use Teams.
8. Check audio and video just before the event
On the day of the event, the presenter clicks the link to the meeting well before time.
The Teams app has a Test call option, to check if audio has been set up correctly. Type /testcall in the Command bar and you will be taken to that old test call we know and ❤ from Skype. You will even receive a report!
Of course the presenters have also turned off all kinds of sounds and on-screen notifications. You don’t want to know the email previews I have seen arriving while people were presenting. 😜
Please also ask presenters to check their hair, clothes and background before people enter the meeting. Of course they can blur or select a background, but it helps if they know they are not sitting in front of that flipover with the upcoming reorganisation or divestiture written out.
Ask them to close all tabs and programmes that they do not need today, so they do not run the risk of accidentally sharing something confidential or embarrassing.
Sonia Cuff recently published a good blog on being a remote presenter.
9. Good luck!
- When the webinar starts, organizer or presenter gives everyone access from the lobby.
- Once everyone is in, you or the presenter may want to instruct attendees on using the mute buttons and the chat and the “raise hand” function, if you are not using that Help background.
- Tell people when you share the handout.
- The organizer may want to download the attendance report during the webinar.
What have I missed?
Is there anything you would like to add?