Flipping the webinar

5255141089_5fb8aec658Most of the time we can’t see the wood for all the trees. I’ve been working for some time in different projects trying to make webinars more interactive and using various tools to extend the dialogue. These experiments have been mostly successful and I feel that the webinars I’m involved in are more interactive and creative than before but somehow one elephant has stayed firmly in the room – content. Nearly all webinars are centred around the delivery of content and even if we now chop that delivery into bite-sized modules with discussion in between, content delivery still dominates the session.

So why not deliver the content before the webinar and focus on questions and discussion instead? This is the basis of an interview with Michael Kolowich, CEO of KnowledgeVision SystemsFlipping the Webinar – Advanced Tips from Industry Expert on Re-imagining Stale Webinars. We generally get the participants’ attention 2-3 weeks in advance so why not make the content available immediately?

The schedule problem comes from the fact that when you find out about most webinars, they’re 2-3 weeks in the future. But as a marketer, you’ve got their attention now! Why not deliver the content now? Why make people wait three weeks? Chances are that no matter how well-intentioned a prospective webinar attendee is, some other meeting will come up in that time slot, and they won’t attend. 

Let participants focus on the presentation in their own time and then provide a channel for questions and reflections, for example a Facebook/Google+ group, a Twitter hashtag, a Padlet wall or a dedicated discussion forum. Then the focus of the webinar will be discussing the participants’ questions and offering them more space to contribute. One advantage of providing pre-recorded content is presentation quality. In a live presentation there are many uncertain factors that can effect the delivery, often due to bandwidth issues. If you have over a hundred participants, slides tend to upload slowly and sound quality will fluctuate. Even the most experienced presenters can make mistakes and so delivery is often less than polished. However a recording can be made to higher standards, allowing several takes as well as the opportunity to edit. The recording will deliver the message in a more convincing and professional manner than the live performance.It’s time to test this I feel and will be interested in seeing the results. If it means that the webinar offers a deeper and more audience-oriented discussion rather than simple content transfer then all the better.
Originally posted on The Corridor of Uncertainty

5 thoughts on “Flipping the webinar

  1. We are trying out a similar idea in our webinar series “MOOCmit eLectures” at the Austrian teacher training institution Virtuelle PH. For our “MOOCmit” webinars we encourage teachers to participate in one of two MOOCs that are currently offered by a German teacher training institution and the Austrian MOOC platform iMOOX. Every week (Thursday or Friday) the teachers then meet in the webinar associated with the MOOC they chose to reflect upon the things learnt and to exchange ideas and experience. Thus, these webinars are highly interactive. The tutor presents the main ideas of the MOOC to get the discussion started but for the most time the participants actively communicate through chat, whiteboard or using their microphones.


    • Dear Alastair,

      Thanks very much for your nice reply. 🙂
      To be honest, this series of our webinars is not really overcrowded with participants…
      Traditional “eLectures” (webinars) that really last only for one hour without any commitment prior or post the event on the other hand are booked by many more colleagues.

      One theory: Maybe lecture-like webinars in which participants can accept the role of “passive” listeners do make sense for some topics/environments/participants and some colleagues are not ready to invest the additional effort to prepare for a webinar in a “flipped way”?

      Stephan 🙂


  2. I want to try flipping large webinars with over 100 participants and focusing on discussion. At the same time I think many people participate in webinars while multitasking and quite enjoy not being actively involved. They half listen to a lecture while answering e-mails etc. maybe they don’t want to be flipped?


    • Yes, I think so too. I think in the end it depends on what people expect from a webinar and how important the topic is for them. If people attend a webinar to get a first idea of a topic, to quickly find out the basics on a topic then they might not be prepared to spend a lot of time for preparation. I am curious to hear more about your experiences with flipping large webinars! 🙂


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